Make Food Safety a Holiday Tradition This Year

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Food Safety

As the holidays approach and cooks are busy planning festive meals, be sure that food safety is a main ingredient in all meal planning. Large and complex menus, often with meat and poultry as a centerpiece, require particular attention to food safety basics. Proper handling, preparing, cooking and storage of food are essential to minimize the growth of E. coli, Salmonella, and other causes of foodborne illness.

"Food safety is always important, and the holidays are a good time to brush up on your food safety knowledge" said Dorothy Teeter, Interim Director of Public Health - Seattle & King County. "Whether you're preparing turkey with all the trimmings or other traditional favorites, be sure not to serve a foodborne illness along with the meal."

Here are important food safety tips to ensure you and your guests are protected from foodborne illness this holiday season:

Wash your hands to stop the spread of germs

  • Wash your hands warm water and soap before touching cooking utensils and before touching food that will not be cooked. Wash for a minimum of 20 seconds.

  • Wash your hands after going to the bathroom, after touching raw meat, fish or poultry, and after taking out the garbage, sneezing, coughing, or smoking.

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Don't spread germs from one food to another (cross-contaminate)

  • Store meat, poultry or fish in the "meat" drawer of the refrigerator, or put them on the bottom shelf in the refrigerator so the juices don't drip on other foods. Separate raw animal products from other foods in your grocery shopping cart.

  • Wash all vegetables and fruits under running water. Scrub fruit like melons with a brush or cloth.

  • Use a cutting board without deep scratches, because they are difficult to properly sanitize. If possible, use one cutting board for raw animal products and another for raw fruits and vegetables.

  • Wash and sanitize cutting surfaces and utensils when you finish cutting raw poultry, meat, or fish. Household bleach is a good sanitizer. Use 1 teaspoon for each gallon of cool water. Dispose of wiping cloths after cleaning raw meat juice.

  • Defrost in the refrigerator, under cold running water, or in the microwave. Don't defrost on the counter.

Heat foods to their proper temperature and check with a thermometer

Harmful bacteria are killed when foods are cooked to the following temperatures:

  • Turkey and other poultry
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