Mind and Body: Food safety for the holidays

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration continues to stress the importance of food safety during the winter holidays.

As the end of the year approaches, it’s likely there are multiple meals and parties in your future.

Carrying food from one location to another and sharing dishes with a crowd means more opportunity for bacteria to grow and cause food poisoning.

Whether you’re an experienced cook, a first-time party host or simply adding a dish to the potluck lineup, the holidays can make even the most confident chefs nervous.

Follow these steps to keep your holiday season food poisoning-free.

Steps to follow during holiday grocery shopping:

— Keep raw meat, poultry and seafood away from other foods in your grocery cart.

— Buy cold foods last.

— Ask the cashier to place your raw meat, poultry, and seafood in a separate bag.

Steps to follow during food preparation:

— Use separate cutting boards for raw meat and ready-to-eat items like vegetables or bread.

— Prepare uncooked recipes before recipes requiring raw meat to reduce cross-contamination. Store them out of the way while preparing meat dishes to ensure they don’t become contaminated after preparation.

— Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of dishes to ensure they are fully cooked and safe to eat. Fresh beef, pork, veal, and lamb should be cooked to 145 degrees F with a three minute rest time; fish should be cooked to 145 degrees F; ground beef, veal, and lamb should be cooked to 160 degrees F; egg dishes should be cooked to 160 degrees F; and all poultry should be cooked to 165 degrees F.

Foolproof tips when cooking for groups:

— Keep hot food hot and cold food cold, using chafing dishes or crockpots and ice trays. Hot items should remain above 140 degrees F and cold items should remain below 40 degrees F.

— Use several small plates when serving food.

— Discard perishable food left out for 2 hours or more.

Steps to follow when cooking a holiday roast:

— Use separate cutting boards, plates, and utensils for raw roasts and cooked roasts to avoid cross-contamination.

— Wash items such as cutting boards that have touched raw meat with warm water and soap, or place them in a dishwasher.

— To ensure the juiciest possible roast this holiday, use a meat thermometer. Once it has reached the USDA recommended internal temperature of 145 degrees F, the roast is safe to eat.

Remember all cuts of pork, beef, veal, and lamb need a three minute rest time before cutting or consuming.

Clark County Health Department provides programs for the entire family, including WIC, HANDS, family planning, well child care/immunizations and home health care. For more information on all of our service, please call 859/744-4482 or visit our website at www.clarkhealthdept.org.