Safe holiday cooking

Food poisoning isn’t pretty, so don’t ruin your holiday dinner by inviting Sal Monella!

Follow these 12 tips for a safe holiday feast, courtesy of the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health:


More than one in ten of us cook Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner for a large crowd. Catering
safely for a large gathering can be a challenge in a domestic kitchen; refrigerators and ovens
never seem big enough. When there is so much food, some is often served warm when it should
be chilled, or too cool when it should be piping hot. These actions can result in an unpleasant
case of food poisoning for you or your family and friends. The following are 12 tips for safe
food handling practices during the holidays:

1. Wash your hands frequently — especially before preparing food, after touching raw
food, coughing, sneezing, or touching pets.

2. Frozen turkeys or other poultry must always be thawed thoroughly and fully
before cooking
— a 15 pound turkey will take 24-28 hours to thaw in the refrigerator;
allow over two days for a 25 pound turkey to defrost.

3. Wash your turkey carefully — washing a turkey or any other poultry can splash harmful
bacteria already on the bird around the kitchen leading to the cross contamination of
other foods. Thoroughly clean and sanitize sinks, countertops, and any other areas
exposed to splashing.

4. Use separate chopping boards and utensils — or wash them thoroughly to avoid
cross contamination between raw meat and any cooked or ready-to-eat foods.

5. Ideally, cook your stuffing separately — but if you feel you must stuff the bird, make
sure you take the stuffing weight into account when calculating your cooking time.

6. Poultry, sausages and chopped and minced meat must always be thoroughly
— check to make sure there are no pink bits in the middle, that the juices run
clear, and they are piping hot throughout the cooking time.

7. Don’t use raw eggs in food that will not be cooked — such as chocolate mousse or
homemade mayonnaise, use pasteurized egg instead.

8. Cook Food to the Proper Minimum Internal Temperature

Poultry and Stuffed Meats 165 F for 15 seconds
Pork Products 145 F for 15 seconds
Reheating Leftovers 165 F for 15 seconds
Hamburger Meat 155 F for 15 seconds

9. Don’t leave leftovers lying around — but make sure hot foods cool quickly before
putting into the refrigerator. To speed cooling: divide into smaller portions or place in
shallow containers.

10. Avoid re-heating food more than once — if you re-heat leftovers make sure they’re
piping hot throughout. Do not eat left over meat that has been refrigerated for longer
than four days or left over stuffing or gravy refrigerated for longer than two days.

11. Give your refrigerator and freezer a good cleaning — before you stock up for the
holidays. Make more space by using up existing items already stored in the refrigerator.

12. Don’t overstock your refrigerator or freezer — it makes it difficult to maintain the right
temperature. Food should be stored separately in covered containers and properly
wrapped. Always store cooked food and ready-to-eat food above raw food like fish,
poultry and meat, which should be in covered containers on the bottom shelf to prevent
them from dripping onto other foods.