FDA & USDA Issue Holiday Food Safety and Cooking Tips

Holiday Food Safety Tips from the FDAThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have issued some helpful food safety and cooking tips and resources for the Holidays.

Resources from the FDA

Among the resources provided via the FDA’s Holiday Food Safety website, is a Holiday Food Safety Success Kit, which includes information and tips on:

Also included is a Holiday Food Safety Video produced by the FDA, which shows how to store, prepare, and serve food safely to prevent foodborne illness from ruining the Holidays. Safe Holiday Food Preparation Tips from the FDA

The video suggests following four easy steps:

  • “CLEAN: Wash hands and surfaces often
  • SEPARATE: Separate raw meats from other foods
  • COOK: Cook to the right temperature
  • CHILL: Refrigerate food promptly.”

Watch »

Resources from the USDA

The USDA provides a Fact Sheet on Food Safety for Holiday or Party Buffets.

The USDA Fact Sheet warns that the popular way of celebrating holidays by inviting friends and family to a buffet, where foods are left out for long periods, can lead to foodborne illness.

USDA recommends a two-hour rule: don’t leave foods sitting at room temperature on the buffet table for longer than two hours.

Another safe cooking tip for Holiday Buffets that may not be as well known is to cook using shallow containers, in order to encourage rapid and even cooking. “Divide cooked foods into shallow containers to store in the refrigerator or freezer until serving. This encourages rapid, even cooling,” the USDA suggests in its fact sheet on food safety for Holiday buffets.

Other some other cooking and food safety tips for the Holidays provided by the USDA:

  • Cook Thoroughly. If you are cooking foods ahead of time for your party, be sure to cook foods thoroughly to safe minimum internal temperatures.
  • Reheat hot foods to 165 °F.
  • Arrange and serve food on several small platters rather than on one large platter. Keep the rest of the food hot in the oven (set at 200-250 °F) or cold in the refrigerator until serving time. This way foods will be held at a safe temperature for a longer period of time.
  • REPLACE empty platters rather than adding fresh food to a dish that already had food in it. Many people’s hands may have been taking food from the dish, which has also been sitting out at room temperature.”
  • Hot foods should be held at 140 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer. Cold foods should be held at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or colder.
  • On the buffet table you can keep hot foods hot with chafing dishes, slow cookers and warming trays, and keep the cold foods cold by nesting dishes in bowls of ice.

For additional steps to prevent food-borne bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus, Clostridium perfringens, Listeria monocytogenes) from crashing your party, visit the USDA’s site’s Seasonal Food Safety Tips (Holiday or Party Buffets).

Food Safety for Older Americans and Others At Risk for Foodborne Illness

The following video, co-produced by the USDA & FDA, discusses food safety brochures available for those at special risk for foodborne illness, including older adults, transplant patients, and those with cancer or other chronic conditions. »

Food Safety for Older Adults - from the USDA (image courtesy of FDA-USDA video)The Food Safety Brochure/ Fact Sheet for Older Adults is available on the USDA’s website.

More Information

Additional Food Safety brochures and information on Food Safety are available at FoodSafety.gov, a website managed by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS).

See related HelpingYouCare® reports on:

Some Steps You Can Take to Help Prevent Illness From Listeria Bacteria

Tips on Keeping Food & Water Safe During Emergencies, Circulated by HHS

Some Fouth of July Barbecue Tips For Avoiding Bacteria

See also:

American Heart Association Publishes New Holiday Healthy Eating Guide

Everyone May Benefit from Diabetes-Friendly Recipes at Thanksgiving


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