Food safety for health and happiness

By Stephanie Stewart - Contributing columnist

Throughout the holiday season we are always cooking for our families, baking for friends and families, or going to special gatherings and carry-ins. During this time of the year we want to be especially careful with our food handling to ensure all of our loved ones can enjoy our feasts and special treats.

We all need to make sure that we are washing our hands, food and utensils to prevent the spread of bacteria.

Always make sure that you are washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water. Make sure that the counter where you are working is clean and all of the utensils are clean.

We need to make sure that our food is kept at a safe temperatures while shopping, cooking and transporting our special dishes. When you are shopping for ingredients, always look for the freshest ingredients. Make sure that you separate raw meats from fresh vegetables and pre-cooked items.

When you arrive home from shopping be sure to refrigerate all of your perishable items, and separate in the refrigerator like you did in your cart.

While cooking your delicious dishes, make sure you are keeping your cold foods cold and your hot foods hot. If you are roasting a big turkey, make sure you have a thermometer to check the internal temperature. You can’t tell if things are done by the way they look — you have to use a thermometer. All cold foods need to be kept cold at 41 F or below, and hot foods hot at 135 F or above.

Now that your dishes are ready for the big dinner you will need to transport them safely. If you have cold dishes to take to your family gathering or carry-in, make sure they are placed in a cooler with cold packs to keep them cold.

If you are bringing a hot dish that is a crowd favorite place your food in a container with a hot pack.

Everyone wants to enjoy all of those special dishes that we make at the holidays.

No one wants to be sick or make anyone sick, so follow these simple rules and you will have a happy and healthy holiday season.

Stephanie Stewart, R. S. is with the Clinton County Health District.

By Stephanie Stewart

Contributing columnist