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Are You Ready for a Food Safe Holiday?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that one in six Americans suffer from foodborne illness each year. Because of this, the Partnership for Food Safety Education created the Holiday Food Safety Success Kit to increase awareness and information about the importance of food safety during the Holiday season.

The USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline talked to almost 350 people on Thanksgiving Day regarding turkey thawing, preparing and storage concerns. Sometimes people know what to do but just need someone to provide reassurance. Other times, people are way off base and require redirection to keep their family and guests safe from foodborne illness.

As you prepare to enjoy time with family and friends, here are some food safety reminders to help you have a food safe holiday.


  • Be sure you know your turkey cooking facts. Cook a properly thawed turkey in an oven set at 325 degrees F or more to a minimum internal temperature of 165 degree F.

  • There are two different types of ham you can purchase and prepare. Fully cooked hams can be enjoyed cold or after reheating to 140 degrees F. If you are preparing a cook-before-you-eat ham, it is very important to cook completely to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F to destroy any harmful bacteria that might be present.

  • Beef roasts cooked at an internal medium rare temperature of 145 degrees F to a medium well 160 degrees F will be tender and juicy when leaner choices of meat like the tenderloin or eye round have been selected.

  • Leg or loin lamb is safe, tender, and moist at a cooked internal temperature between medium rare 145 degrees F and well-done 170 degrees F.

  • Cook fresh pork to an internal temperature of 145 degrees F and poultry and wild game to 165 degrees F.

  • Print off this Is It Done Yet? chart for a handy kitchen temperature reference.

  • If you are enjoying egg dishes such as casseroles, be sure to cook until the center reaches 160 degrees F with a food thermometer.

  • If you are making homemade ice cream or eggnog be sure to use a cooked egg-milk mixture that has been gently heated to 160 degrees F or use pasteurized egg products.

  • If you are making a meringue-topped pie, you don't have to worry about food safety as long as it has been baked in a 350 degree F oven for at least 15 minutes.

  • For recipes calling for uncooked egg or egg whites, be sure to use pasteurized egg or egg products especially if you are serving pregnant women, young children, older adults or anyone with weakened immune systems that could be at increased risk of foodborne illness.
Fresh Produce

  • Be sure to wash your hands for at least twenty seconds under warm soapy water before handling, cutting, or eating fresh fruits or vegetables especially if you have handled raw eggs or meat.

  • Wash all produce thoroughly unless it is identified as pre-washed. Washing with commercial produce washes, soaps, or detergents is not recommended. Use a produce brush to scrub firm produce.

  • Be sure to use a clean cutting board, knife and measuring cups especially if they are also used with meats.
Storage Times for Refrigerated Foods

  • When storing leftover meat and poultry remember that cooked beef, turkey, chicken, pork and lamb as well as stewed meat should be used within two days. Steaks, chops, and roasts are usually safe when stored at the correct temperature (under 40 degrees F) for up to five days.

  • Ham can be stored a bit longer. A whole fully cooked ham can be stored for up to a week or four days if it is cooked and sliced.

  • Casseroles, stews, and soups can be stored for up to four days including cooked egg dishes.

  • Be sure the temperature of your refrigerator is between 32-40 degrees F so that any place in the fridge will maintain food at the correct temperature.
You can find many helpful videos in English, Spanish and ASL at the USDA Food Safety YouTube Channel.

Please share your food safety tips here to help other readers have a food safe Holiday.

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How do you handle dinner guests who don't wash their hands? Report
Thanks for the Info Report
I started washing my hands and produces several years ago. I always encourage my family to do the same. Report
Thank You for sharing all this helpful info! Report
Thanks! I really needed this! Report
I never know how long things can be kept in the fridge. Thank you!! Report
Wow, this is a great article! We need more practical information in this country on preparing our food safely...and meat thermometers in every home. I need to start using one, I can see. Report
DROP THAT FORK and back SLOWLY away from that table............. LOL Report
How long can i let my Turkey set at 170 degrees after it has been cooked fully? Anyone know? Report
This is very good I am keeping it in my kitchen Report
Thanks for all the good information about cooking. Report
The limits on left overs are more stringent than mine - and I trained FoodSafe YEARS ago. Guess I needed an update! Out the leftovers go... Report
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