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Holiday Food Safety Tips

Holiday Food Safety Tips

Preparing Your Holiday Meal

As the holiday season approaches, people begin to think about all of the delicious food they will get to eat. However, along with the holiday cheer comes the risk of foodborne illness. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in six Americans will get sick each year eating contaminated food.

You can do several things to reduce your risk of getting sick this holiday season. Here are some of our top suggestions to keep your holiday happy and avoid a trip to the doctor:

Food Safety

First, practicing proper food safety when preparing holiday meals is important. Food safety can be broken down into a few categories:


You should wash your hands before eating and cooking, after touching raw meat and after using the bathroom to avoid the spread of bacteria and illness. Use these tips to make sure you're washing your hands properly.

Food Contamination

Raw eggs, meat and poultry always should be kept separate from other ingredients in the kitchen. These foods carry harmful bacteria, including salmonella and E. coli. When cooked, these bacteria are safely destroyed. Be sure to always use separate cutting boards and utensils to avoid cross-contamination.

Cooking Instruction

Be sure to follow the recommended cooking times for your dishes, storage recommendations and reheating temperatures. A food thermometer will be your best friend in ensuring your food is cooked to the proper internal temperature. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind as you prepare to cook your holiday meal:

When cooking raw meat:

  • Cook to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Cook ground beef, pork and lamb at 160 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Poultry should not be washed before cooking as this can spread bacteria via water droplets
  • If you're cooking a holiday turkey, make sure it is completely thawed before cooking

When heating food:

  • Meals that contain milk or cream should not be reheated
  • When reheating any dish, make sure it is heated until steaming hot throughout

Food Allergies

Second, be aware of your food allergies and those of your guests. Make sure to clearly label all food and drinks that contain allergens and be prepared to offer alternatives for those with severe allergies. If you are catering food for your holiday celebrations, ensure the restaurant is allergy-friendly.

Food Poisoning

Finally, know the signs and symptoms of food poisoning. Food poisoning occurs when you consume harmful toxins, viruses or bacteria. If you or someone you know starts to experience vomiting, diarrhea or fever after eating, it is vital to seek medical attention immediately.

It’s important to note that pregnant women are at an increased risk of food poisoning, and those who are pregnant should consult a doctor to ensure they know what foods to avoid. These items include seafood and unpasteurized dairy products.

Family Medicine in Middleburg Heights

By following these simple tips, you can enjoy a holiday season that is both delicious and safe! Southwest General Medical Group is here to work closely with you to ensure you are always feeling your best all year. To learn more about our services or schedule an appointment, visit our website.