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christmas dinner

Good food is a big part of holiday celebrations, a time when your whole family gathers for a mini family reunion. After you feast on the traditional family favorites you carefully prepared, you’ll sit around the table talking, laughing, reminiscing – and absentmindedly nibbling at leftovers. Time will fly by and you will have forgotten how long the food has been lingering on the table.

This common scenario can put your family and friends at risk for foodborne illnesses. Food sitting at room temperature for over two hours creates the perfect environment for food poisoning.

Bacteria thrive in a warm environment and spread fastest at temperatures between 40°F and 140°F.

Joan Salge Blake, registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says: “as you eat and visit with family and friends, keep in mind how long the food on the buffet table has been sitting out unrefrigerated. You can’t tell if a food is unsafe by taste, smell or appearance alone.”

Food safety is key to keeping your friends and family safe from food poisoning.

“Some of your guests may be at a higher risk for developing serious illness from food poisoning, including young children, pregnant women and older adults,” cautions Salge Blake.

But, you don’t have to let food poisoning spoil the party. With careful planning you can keep your friends and family safe during and after the holiday celebration. Follow these simple steps for planning, shopping, cooking and wrapping up the holiday feast.

Proper planning. Make sure your kitchen is equipped with what you need for safe food handling, including two cutting boards (one for raw meats and seafood and the other for ready-to-eat foods), a food thermometer, shallow containers for storage, paper towels and soap.

Store foods in the refrigerator at 40°F or below or in the freezer at 0°F or below. Check the temperature of both the refrigerator and freezer with a refrigerator thermometer.

Safe shopping. It’s important to keep food safety in mind as you shop, according to Salge Blake. Whether in the shopping cart, reusable grocery tote or the car trunk, keep raw meat, poultry and seafood separate from ready-to-eat foods like fruit, vegetables and bread.

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article courtesy of TheGrio.com

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