As friends and family gather together during the holidays, you want to make sure that you keep out any unwelcome guests in the form of harmful food borne bacteria. The following tips will ensure food safety and a great time for everyone at your table.Wash your hands and clean all prep surfaces and tools regularly during food preparation. Bacteria can survive in many places around your kitchen, especially on your hands, utensils and cutting boards. Unless you wash your hands, utensils and surfaces the right way, you could spread bacteria to your food and your family.
Soiled cloths are a hot breeding ground for bacteria. Wash them in the hot water cycle of your washing machine.
Keep raw foods and ready-to-eat foods separate. Raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs can still spread illness-causing bacteria to ready-to-eat foods unless you keep them separate. When juices from raw meats or bacteria from unclean objects accidentally touch cooked or ready-to-eat foods like salads, bread or cooked vegetables, cross contamination can occur.
When shopping, keep raw meats away from other foods in your shopping cart and in grocery bags.
Use separate tools and utensils. Never use the same utensils, cutting boards or containers for ready-to-eat foods that were previously used for handling raw meat, poultry or fish.
Keep hot food "hot" and cold food "cold." Use a properly calibrated food thermometer to be sure. Cooking foods to a proper minimum internal temperature kills harmful pathogens. Many people think they can tell when food is "done" simply by checking its color and texture, but there's no way to be sure it's safe without a food thermometer.
Always check the food temperature in the thickest part of the roast or turkey and check in two or three different spots for a rice dish or casserole.
Refrigerate leftovers quickly after serving to prevent bacteria growth and potential food poisoning.
Perishable foods cannot be left at out for longer than two hours at room temperature, or one hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Never marinate or thaw foods on the counter at room temperature. These should be done in the refrigerator or in some other safe manner.
Source: Bart Christian