Be Food Safe During the Holidays

The holiday season is just around the corner. It’s that time of the year to enjoy holiday meals and treats with family and friends. Turkey dinners, ham, colorful vegetables, stuffing and desserts will soon fill the table.

Following safe food handling practices can help reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses. Handle and prepare food safely so that everyone can enjoy the holiday meals, treats and the holiday spirit.

Protect your family from sickness by following four basic food safety steps: CLEAN, SEPARATE, COOK and CHILL.


  • Always wash your hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before and after preparing food.
  • Wash cooking utensils, cutting boards and counters with hot soapy water before and after touching food.
  • Rinse fresh vegetables and fruits under running water.


  • Always use a clean cutting board for fresh produce and a separate one for raw seafood, meat and poultry.
  • Keep meat, poultry, seafood and eggs away from other foods.
  • In the refrigerator, place raw seafood, meat and poultry on the bottom shelf. Store ready to eat foods on the top shelf.


  • Thaw frozen meat safely by putting it in the refrigerator one to two days before needed.
  • Use a food thermometer when cooking. This helps to ensure that food is safely cooked. Follow the safe cooking temperature chart.
  • Keep foods at safe temperatures. Use a food thermometer to hold cold foods at 40 °F or below and hot foods at 140 °F or above. Foods are no longer safe to eat when they have been in the danger zone between 40-140 °F for more than 2 hours (1 hour if the temperature was above 90 °F).


  • Put foods that will spoil such as meat, poultry and eggs in the refrigerator as soon as you get home from the market. See the cold food storage chart for storing foods in the fridge or freezer.  
  • Place large pots of soups and stews into small shallow containers before putting in the fridge. The food will cool faster.

Food Safety Resources: – get the latest news, alerts, and tips on safely handling and storing food to prevent food poisoning.

Be Food Safe – ten tips from the US Department of Agriculture to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.


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