Holiday food safety

As you gather around the table with family and friends to share a meal and celebrate the holidays, the Florida Department of Health reminds you to practice food safety to ensure a safe and healthy holiday season for everyone. Foodborne illnesses affect one in six people each year in the United States, but it is easily preventable.

The department recommends following these key steps to prevent foodborne illness during the holidays and year-round.

  • Do not prepare food for others if you have diarrhea or vomiting;
  • Keep your refrigerator below 40°F and refrigerate perishable items;
  • When transporting food to another location, keep it cold to minimize bacterial growth;
  • Pack food directly from the refrigerator into the cooler immediately before leaving home;
  • Make sure your cooking area is clean: wash hands, cutting boards, utensils and countertops often;
  • Wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling food;
  • Separate raw meats from other foods;
  • Use a food thermometer to ensure that foods are cooked to a safe internal temperature;
  • After everyone has enjoyed the meal, divide all remaining leftovers into smaller portions and store in shallow containers in the refrigerator within two hours of the meal;
  • Perishable food items that have been left out of the refrigerator for longer than two hours should be discarded; and
  • Reheat holiday leftovers to 165°F and allow dishes to sit for a few minutes afterwards so the heat can kill any bacteria.

For more information on how to keep your family safe from foodborne-illness this holiday season, visit http://www.foodsafety.gov/.