Top Ten Tips For Holiday Food Safety

When making your list and checking it twice, don't forget about food safety during the holiday season.

"While the pace is hectic, it's crucial to slow down in the kitchen and remember the importance of food safety, so that friends and family don't leave with any unwanted gifts," says Debra Smiley Holtzman, JD, MA, an internationally recognized safety and health expert and author of "The Safe Baby-A Do-It-Yourself Guide to Home Safety."

According to federal estimates, about 76 million Americans suffer from food-borne illness, and at least 5,000 will die each year. This underscores the importance of food safety, especially during the holiday entertaining season.

While there are many ways to prevent the spread of bacteria in your kitchen, the best way is to never bring it inside.

One way to avoid bringing bacteria into the house is to use eggs that are pasteurized in their shell, such as Davidson's Safest Choice Pasteurized Shell Eggs. These eggs are easily identified with a red circle P on all the shells.

This indicates that when an egg enters your home, it is safe from bacteria including salmonella.

Holtzman's Top Ten Tips for Holiday Food Safety:

1. Wash hands thoroughly before and after handling food and utensils.

2. When cracking eggs for cookie dough, use pasteurized eggs so that licking the spoon remains safe.

3. Refrigerate all custard-type pies, including homemade pumpkin pie; perishable foods can grow dangerous bacteria when left at room temperature for more than two hours.

4. Keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. Use chafing dishes and ice to maintain safe temperatures.

5. Cooking stuffing in a turkey is a major no-no. The bird cooks both from the outside and the inside, so cook the poultry and stuffing separately.

6. When serving mimosas, use the highest-quality orange juice that is pasteurized. Unpasteurized juice and cider may contain pathogens such as E.coli.

7. Wash all produce thoroughly under clean, running water and scrub the rind, too.

8. Foil-wrapped baked potatoes should be kept hot or refrigerated to prevent botulism.

9. When preparing eggnog, use only pasteurized eggs.

10. Use a food thermometer to be sure foods are safely cooked.

Holtzman's book, "The Safe Baby," is available where books are sold.

There are easy ways to protect yourself from food-borne illness. When making cookie dough, use pasteurized eggs so that licking the spoon remains safe.

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