As the Food Bank continues to serve thousands of our neighbors in need this holiday season, we know that food is a big part of any celebration. It not only nourishes the body, but the soul, and helps to bring people together. With that in mind, it is important to make sure the meals you prepare are safe. For that, we checked in with our Nutrition Education team for their top 5 tips to stay food safe year round.
1. Wash hands and surfaces often with soap and warm water. Harmful bacteria can easily spread when hands and surfaces are not clean.
2. Use separate cutting boards for meat. If possible, keep cutting boards that you use for fruits and vegetables separate from those you use for meats, poultry and seafood. If raw meat juices come in contact with raw produce, harmful bacteria can make us sick. Keeping our cutting boards separate reduces that risk.
3. Thaw meat on the bottom shelf. When defrosting animal proteins for the holidays, place raw meat, poultry, and seafood in containers or sealed plastic bags and place them on the bottom shelf of your fridge to prevent juices from dripping onto other foods.
4. Avoid the Temperature Danger Zone (TDZ) by keeping cold foods at 41°F or below and hot foods 135°F or above.
5. Cool first, then refrigerate. Store leftovers in fridge-safe containers once food has cooled. Avoid placing hot leftovers directly in the fridge before cooling. Hot food can raise the temperature of your fridge and other foods insider, inviting the growth of pathogens on surrounding foods.
6. Enjoy the holidays in the company of your loved ones including family, friends, neighbors, and even pets!