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Preparing food safely during the Christmas season

Cooking over the holiday season can be rather challenging with so many different foods cooking at different times and temperatures. It can be easy to forget that food safety is so important.

Here are five easy steps to follow to ensure that your family can share fond memories sitting around the table this festive season:

  1. Clean
  2. Separate
  3. Cook
  4. Chill
  5. Reheat

1. Clean 

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and running water before and after handling food.
  • Clean cutting boards and knives with soap and warm water, air drying or using clean paper towel to dry.
  • Counter tops should be washed before and after foods are prepared.

2. Separate

  • Use separate cutting boards for poultry; meat; seafood and raw vegetables, wash thoroughly between different food products.  
  • Separate raw and cooked foods to prevent cross contamination during preparation, serving and storing of left-overs.

3. Cook

  • Cook foods to safe temperatures which can be checked by using a food thermometer.
  • Chart of safe temperatures to prevent contamination is useful:
Food productMinimum internal temperatureResting time
Pork 145 °F3 min
Chicken/turkey165 °FNone
Beef roast145 °F3 min
Veal/lamb165 °FNone

4. Chill

  • Place left-overs in the fridge or freezer within 2 hours of cooking.
  • Store raw and cooked left-overs separately.
  • Cover leftovers before storing.

5. Reheat

  • Heat left-overs thoroughly to 165 °F/74 °C before eating.
  • Bring soup and sauces to a rolling boil before eating.
  • Best practice is to stir left-overs half way through heating to ensure food is all adequately heated.
  • Left-overs retain their moisture best when covered during heating.

If these guidelines are followed most foods will remain safe in the fridge for 3-4 days and longer if stored in the freezer. Pate` should be eaten 1-2 days after purchase or preparation. A good food application to assist you regarding individual food products and their optimal storage times -“FoodKeeper”.

Together we can make the festive season absolutely fabulous with delicious food; good company and great left-overs.

by Zita Ronald

BSc RD, BA Psych

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