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Proper food handling tips

DAILY NEWS STAFF REPORT

SUMMIT COUNTY- Local health officials Friday reminded Coloradans about the importance of properly handling and preparing foods to avoid getting sick from food this holiday season.

Simon Farrell, food program lead for the Summit County Environmental Health Department, said the most frequent causes of food-borne illnesses are from foods kept at unsafe temperatures, inadequate hand washing and preparing and serving foods on soiled services or with contaminated utensils. Other causes include cooking foods such as eggs, poultry and meats below the proper temperature.

“By following simple food safety guidelines, holiday parties and meals will be safe and enjoyable for all,” Farrell said.

He provided the following tips for keeping foods safe:

•Cool all leftovers to 41 F or lower within four hours after cooking is complete. Do not leave foods containing meat, milk, eggs, fish or poultry out at room temperature for more than the four-hour limit. This includes casseroles and pumpkin or other custard pies that are popular during the holidays.

•Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and warm water before food preparation and after using the bathroom, changing diapers, sneezing, coughing, eating, drinking or smoking. Also, wash your hands after handling raw meat, eggs, fish or poultry.

•Bacteria can spread throughout the kitchen and get onto cutting boards, knives, sponges and counter tops. Minimize cross-contamination risks by thoroughly cleaning and sanitizing knives, cutting boards and other utensils before and after preparing foods, particularly between the preparation of raw meat and foods that will not be further cooked. A sanitizing solution can be prepared using one tablespoon of unscented chlorine bleach per gallon of water.

•Buy a cooking thermometer and use it. Turkey and stuffing should be cooked thoroughly to 165 F and ham to 145 F or above before serving. Recipes requiring eggs must be cooked thoroughly to 145 F or above. If egg dishes do not require cooking, such as homemade eggnog or salad dressing, use pasteurized egg products instead of shelled eggs.

•Do not thaw foods at room temperature. Plan enough time to thaw food in the refrigerator, placing food items on a tray to catch any juices that may leak from the original packaging to avoid cross-contamination of other foods.


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