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FESTIVE FOOD SAFETY

- Nine Essential Ingredients to Reduce the Risk of Foodborne Illnesses -

Hosting family or friends for the holidays? Be sure to serve up food safety to reduce the risk of illness.

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit reminds local residents that safe food handling skills are very important at a time when many holiday meals and gatherings are being planned. Food that becomes contaminated due to improper food handling or undercooking can make people sick, spoiling what is supposed to be a happy holiday.

“Foodborne illnesses occur more frequently than people think, and the home is one of the main places where illnesses can occur,” says Md Azad, a Public Health Inspector with the HKPR District Health Unit. “The best recipe for a holiday meal with family and friends is one that includes safe food preparation.”

To reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses, the Health Unit provides these nine essential ingredients for festive food safety:

1. Get off to a clean start. Wash hands, utensils and surfaces with hot soapy water before, during and after preparing foods. Sanitize countertops, cutting boards and utensils with a mild bleach and water solution. Wash all produce thoroughly before preparing, eating or cooking.

2. If preparing a frozen turkey for a holiday meal, start thawing it in the fridge several days before roasting. Allow 24 hours of defrosting time for every 2.5 kg (5 pounds) of turkey. Place the thawing turkey on a plate or tray to prevent the leaking juices from contaminating other foods in the fridge. Never thaw a turkey on the kitchen counter.

3. The goal of cooking a turkey is to reach a high enough internal temperature (82⁰C/180⁰F) to kill bacteria. Rather than checking for the juices to run clear to let you know the turkey is done, it is better to use a probe thermometer to check the internal temperature of the turkey. The best place to check the temperature is the inner thigh, just above the bone. Stuffing should be cooked outside the turkey and should reach a temperature of 74⁰C (165⁰F).

4. Cook foods thoroughly and serve immediately. Keep hot foods hot with warming trays, chafing dishes or slow cookers that measure at least 60⁰C (140⁰F). Keep cold foods cold by resting serving dishes on crushed ice.

5. If traveling, ensure hot foods stay in insulated containers to keep a 60⁰C (140⁰F) temperature. Reheat thoroughly before serving. Put cold foods in a cooler with ice or freezer packs to keep them at 4⁰C (40⁰F) or lower.

6. When serving food, use small bowls or trays. This helps to ensure the temperature of food remains even, and also prevents food from being left out too long.

7. Remember the two-hour rule when entertaining guests with a large meal or buffet. Perishable foods should not be left out at room temperature for longer than two hours. When in doubt, throw it out!

8. While unpasteurized apple cider is a popular holiday beverage, it may contain E.coli. To be sure cider is safe, buy cider that is labeled as being pasteurized.

9. Leftovers should be cooled quickly and promptly refrigerated. Avoid leaving turkey sitting out for snacking after a meal. Use leftover turkey and other cooked dishes within four days. Never use leftovers as leftovers.

For more food safety tips, call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577 and speak to a Public Health Inspector, or click here.

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For media inquiries, contact:

In Northumberland County: Md Azad, Public Health Inspector, HKPR District Health Unit, (905) 885-9100.

In City of Kawartha Lakes: Dharminder Kaler, Public Health Inspector, HKPR District Health Unit, (705) 324-3569.

In Haliburton County: Neha Gandhi, Public Health Inspector, HKPR District Health Unit, (705) 457-1391,
or Tom Reddering, Public Health Inspector, HKPR District Health Unit, (705) 457-1391.

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