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Food Storage & Safety Tips for the Holidays

Posted on 12/17/2015

The holidays and food-borne illnesses often go hand-in-hand, with ‘too many cooks in the kitchen’ and food galore, it can be a recipe for disaster. It’s no wonder why many people suffer from bouts of illnesses during the holidays. You don’t have to spend your holidays ill, with a little preparation and planning you can relax and be healthy this year with these few tips to help you enjoy it to the fullest extent...

Keep your food and guests safe

Properly Refrigerate Your Food

Refrigerate food promptly: Refrigerate leftovers within two hours of preparation. Leaving food out too long is one of the biggest holiday food safety problems. During the feast it is tempting to linger around the table but when food sits outs for more than two hours they are in the danger zone and prime for bacterial growth. Store leftovers shallow containers and make sure the refrigerator is not over-packed and there is plenty of air circulating around the food so it can be properly cooled.

Washing Your Hands

Wash hands and surfaces often: Wash your hands thoroughly and often -- before, during, and after food preparation. Simply washing hands is one of the easiest ways to minimize bacterial contamination and keep your food safe. Wash with hot water and soap, up to your wrists and between your fingers, for approximately 20 seconds.

Picking Your Food (1)

Prevent your guests from picking: It may be the holiday seasons, but it is also cold and flu season! About half of all people have staph aureus bacteria on their fingertips, so it is important to prevent anyone from picking at the food while it is being prepared.

Properly Reheat Food

Cook leftovers to the right temperature: Reheat leftovers to 165 degrees. Filling a plate of food and popping it into the microwave for a few minutes may seem safe enough but you should use a thermometer to make sure all the food is reheated enough to kill bacteria. Most microwaves heat in an uneven manner, so let the covered food sit for a minute or two to let the heat destroy any bugs, then check the temperature all around the plate.

Leftover meals for days!

Remember, when it comes to your food and your health, you can never be too cautious. By taking these four simple steps, you'll ensure that your food is ready to go when you get that late night or next day craving. Now, go on, enjoy your meal(s) for days to come!


Rene Ficek, RDN, CDE

Grew up in the food industry and took that love of healthy eating to earn her degree in nutrition. She has worked as a registered dietitian for 6 years and has been with SSHE since 2013, providing nutrition analysis and meal planning. Her special interests in weight management and diabetes, helps patients manage their weight and health conditions. She enjoys an active lifestyle, as well as time in the kitchen. Rene’s favorite SSHE meal is the Thai Noodle Salad.

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