Holiday Food Safety Tips
Thinking of sending food as a gift this holiday season? Sending a basket of local cheeses and meats is a meaningful gift for long-distant relatives and friends. When sending food such as meat or cheese, always notify the recipient before the gift arrives. Upon arrival, the recipient needs to open the package immediately to determine if the food requires refrigeration, and if the food is still chilled at the proper temperature.
Turkeys, hams and roasts are typical fare at many holiday feasts, but seldom make an appearance outside of the holidays. Oftentimes it's hard to remember how to properly prepare and handle these larger pieces of meat. Frozen turkeys require a much longer time to thaw than the standard-size poultry pieces and cuts of meat served year-round. It's important to thaw a turkey completely before cooking to ensure that the meat will cook evenly and thoroughly. To check a turkey for doneness, use a meat thermometer and insert it into the inner thigh area near the breast of the turkey away from the bone. When the temperature reaches 180°F and the stuffing reaches 165°F, the turkey is done.
Baking cookies and making eggnog are traditional holiday activities. However, consuming uncooked foods made with raw eggs is a health risk, and this includes cookie dough and eggnog. Resist temptation to lick the beaters or sample the raw cookie dough, and wait until after the cookies have been properly baked. For those who can't resist the taste and texture of raw cookie dough, commercial dough made with pasteurized eggs is an alternative. Pasteurization heats eggs to a high enough temperature to sufficiently kill bacteria. If eggnog is on the menu, use a sterile egg substitute instead of raw eggs, or a recipe that requires heating the mixture or serve a pasteurized eggnog beverage purchased from the store.
- Put a food thermometer on the shopping list when you buy your turkey.
- Cook all poultry to 165 degrees F.
- For taste and food safey, don't stuff a turkey you plan to smoke. Click here for more info for smoking/grilling turkey.
- All about stuffing (or dressing): 27 questions and answers covering stuffing bags to oysters.
- For thawing times and tips, click here.
- Last years unused, FROZEN turkey is safe to cook! Use now for quality, don't wait til next Thanksgiving.
- For more food safety information from VDACS, click here.