Answers to Common Holiday Health Questions

Premier Physician Network providers answer frequently asked questions about holiday health.

What are safety issues around the holidays that most people don’t think about?

While everyone is getting ready for joyous celebrations full of treats and sweets, it’s not always easy to remember the safety issues involved in all the food you’ll be eating this holiday season. The celebrations will be much more cheerful if everyone is healthy and well, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The FDA recommends following four steps for proper holiday food safety:

  • Clean – It’s important to keep everything clean during food preparation. Wash your hands with soap in warm running water for at least 20 seconds. Wash all counters and cutting boards. Rinse fruits and vegetables in cool running water using a produce brush. Do not use the same utensils and cutting boards for raw meats because that will increase the chances of spreading bacteria.
  • Separate – Keep foods separate so you can avoid cross-contamination. Use one cutting board for foods that will be cooked and another for preparing raw foods, such as fruits and vegetables. Keep raw foods separate and use different utensils for them. Once meat is cooked, do not put it back on the original, unwashed plate, but rather on a new plate.
  • Cook – Food is safe once it has reached a high enough internal temperature. Doneness should not be determined by color alone, but instead by using a meat thermometer. Bring sauces, soups and gravies to a rolling boil when reheating. Cook eggs until the yolk and white are firm. Do not eat uncooked cookie dough that contains raw eggs.
  • Chill – Refrigerate foods quickly to avoid harmful bacteria from growing. Put leftovers and takeout foods, including pumpkin pie, in the fridge within two hours. Never defrost food at room temperature. If food looks or smells questionable, follow the “when in doubt, throw it out” rule. Leftovers should be used within three or four days.

Following these food safety steps will ensure you have enjoyable holiday gatherings with no sickness from food with bacteria.

Talk to your physician for more information about food safety and other holiday safety threats people don’t often think of.

Learn more:

Source: Joseph Allen, MD, Family Medicine of Vandalia; Ann DeClue, MD, Ann DeClue, MD; Andrew Diller, MD, Brookville Family Care; Joshua Ordway, MD, Franklin Family Practice; Christopher Lauricella, DO, Family Medicine of Vandalia