Keep holidays merry with good food safety tips
Today across the nation, Americans will settle in for a holiday meal with friends and family.
But amazingly, Christmas isn't the biggest day of the year for food consumption, nor is it the second.
Christmas ranks third, behind Thanksgiving and the Super Bowl, according to delish.com.
Unlike Thanksgiving, though, Americans don't have a specific dish they make annually to mark the big day. Instead, we turn to a variety of options for the big Christmas dinner. Some favor ham, while others turn to duck. However, many consume turkey, and lots of it. In fact, 22 million turkeys are consumed on Christmas Day. On Thanksgiving, on the other hand, 46 million turkeys are gobbled up.
But cooking that turkey comes with its own risks.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, there are an increased number of cooking fires every year on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Experts recommend that those working in the kitchen stay there until the meal is ready, and keep an eye on the oven and stovetop to prevent any unexpected disasters.
Cooks also need to be careful on how they prepare each part of the meal. In fact, cross-contamination — where bacteria from raw meat makes its way to some fresh veggies, for example, is responsible for many cases of food poisoning each year. Experts recommend those cooking use separate cutting boards for meats and veggies, and that knives — and hands — are thoroughly washed between each food you prepare.
And after the meal is cooked, it should only sit on the counter if you can keep it hot — not just warm. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, food should be kept sitting out at 140 degrees or warmer. And even at that temperature, after two hours, the USDA says it's time to put everything away — which should ultimately keep dangerous bacteria from growing in your soon-to-be leftovers.
And speaking of leftovers, if you're talking turkey, it doesn't have a very long shelf life. In fact, once cooked, it's only good for about three or four days.
Consumers might get a little more out of a ham, depending on what kind they choose. A fresh, uncured ham, once cooked, can be kept in the refrigerator for three to five days. The precooked, cured ones can sometimes last up to seven days — but always check the label, as the “lifespan” does vary.
Whichever meal you enjoy today, Yuma, we hope you'll follow these recommendations to keep your holidays merry.