According to multiple studies people are extremely vulnerable to contracting food borne illnesses during the Holiday season.
The holidays are almost here, which translates into lots of fun and festive parties to celebrate the season. Obviously, these celebrations generally feature a great variety of delectable foods and tasty drinks that can be dangerous for your health if you aren’t paying attention.
According to the Center for Disease Control, an estimated one in six people in the United States come down with food poisoning every year.
What you can do is be properly prepared because this is the key to making sure everyone gets through their holidays in one piece. Take extra care to make sure food is properly refrigerated. When you go shopping, consider taking a cooler bag with you to help you safely transport perishable items home. Definitely take inventory as far as your fridge beforehand to make absolutely sure that you will be able to keep everything you buy properly chilled.
Also, make sure to be extra careful with high risk foods such as soft cheese, poultry, ham, salads, homemade dips, and seafood. Desserts that may contain raw egg, like tiramisu, should also find you taking greater care to observe hygiene rules.
Foodborne illness is caused by eating food contaminated with certain bacteria, viruses or parasites. However, food is an important part of many holiday celebrations, so make sure to reduce the risk of foodborne illness for your family and friends during the holiday season by following some basic food safety tips:
- Wash your hands thoroughly after handling raw meat
- Use an anti-bacterial cleaner to wipe down any surfaces, including counters and cutting boards that come into contact with raw meat
- Check the expiration date on foods before using them to cook or offering them to guests
- Wash all produce, even the kind that’s "pre-washed", before using it
- Avoid cross-contamination by using separate utensils to stir raw and cooked food
- Make sure all foods are cooked to the appropriate temperature. This rule doesn’t apply to just meat and poultry either. Eggs, seafood, and even potatoes can cause illness if they are undercooked
- Don’t leave foods that require refrigeration or freezing out for more than two hours
- In case you are in doubt regarding any food – raw or cooked, prepared or homemade – don’t use it
Disease-causing organisms include Salmonella, E. coli and Listeria monocytogenes. These bacteria are sometimes found in or on the following:
- raw and undercooked meat, poultry, fish and their juices
- the surfaces of and/or in the juices of raw fruits and vegetables
- unpasteurized (raw) milk and (raw) milk products, like raw milk, soft and semi-soft cheeses
- raw and lightly cooked eggs
Since these foods are often part of the menu at many holiday meals and parties, it is always wise to take extra care when preparing, cooking, serving and storing food during the Holiday season.
If you take extra care and prepare everything with caution and care, everything should be fine. And then you can and should enjoy the festive season, the parties and gatherings and of course the wonderful food everyone prepares for the Holidays.
And, remember, if you want to avoid holiday feasts and the stress of cooking altogether, there’s always take-out.