The holidays are upon us, and this means that families, friends, businesses and restaurants will be planning holiday menus. Whether you’re knee-deep in your family kitchen cooking up a storm, or working in your gourmet kitchen preparing a meal for the masses, food handling safety is more important now than ever.
While food safety probably isn’t the first thing you think about for the holidays, it can help keep your gathering memorable for all of the right reasons - and none of the wrong ones. Did you know that 76 million people in the U.S. get sick from food-borne illness every year, according to the CDC? That statistic isn’t just for the holidays, but it can be even harder during the holidays because of cold and flu season, as well as the menu including more than you have room for in the refrigerator. Here are a few tips from All Portable Sinks to keep in mind during the holidays, no matter what scale your holiday feast is.
Make a Master Plan
This isn’t just a master menu plan, this is a plan that accounts for everything involved in the meal preparation. You’ll want to consider your refrigerator, freezer, and oven space. How do you plan to keep hot foods at 140º or higher, and cold foods at 40º or below? Will you be using coolers to keep food cool? If so, do you have plenty of clean ice and a plan to check on it regularly?
Keep Sticky Fingers Out of the Kitchen
Because the holidays are prime cold and flu season, this compounds the fact that about half of all people have staph aureus bacteria on their fingertips. It is vital to make sure that no one is picking at the food while it is being prepared. Instead, serve simple appetizers to give guests something to nibble on until the meal is ready to be served.
Get a Good Thermometer
If you want to make sure that food has been cooked enough to kill bacteria, you simply need a good thermometer. Turkey, stuffing, side dishes, and all leftovers will need to be cooked to at least 165 degrees and kept above 140º during serving to keep bacteria destroyed.
Wash All Fresh Produce
Even when it is prepackaged, you want to minimize potential bacterial contamination. You can also make sure that your kitchen counters, sponges, cutting boards, and knives are all well-scrubbed.
You Have Two Hours
Leaving food out for too long is one of the BIGGEST holiday food safety problems. It’s easy to just linger around the table, but when food sits out for more than two hours at room temperature is prime for bacterial growth.
Defrost Your Turkey or Buy a Fresh One
If you choose a frozen turkey, you want to allocate 24 hours per 5 pounds to defrost in the refrigerator and do NOT defrost the bird on the kitchen counter. Another option (while it may seem wasteful) is to defrost the bird using frequently changed cold water - you will want to change the cold water every 30 minutes.
Finally, Wash Your Hands
We say this often, but it is important to wash your hands thoroughly and often - before, during, and after food preparation. This can be one of the EASIEST ways to minimize bacterial contamination and keep food safe. Wash with hot water and soap, up to your wrists, and between your fingers for approximately 20 seconds.
Everyone can practice food safety during the holidays.
Wash your hands. Be sure to wash your hands with soap and water during these key times when you are likely to get and spread germs:
- Before, during, and after preparing food
- After touching raw meat, raw eggs, or unwashed vegetables
- Before eating or drinking
- Before and after caring for someone who is sick
- Before and after treating a cut or wound
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- After using the toilet
- After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
- After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
- After touching garbage.
These guidelines are per the CDC. You can learn more by visiting their website: CDC.gov
Happy Holiday Season from All Portable Sinks!
Our team hopes that you have a wonderful season enjoyed with friends and family. If you find that your facility doesn’t have enough hand washing stations to keep everyone safe, or you even find that you need a portable sink for personal use - we would be glad to help you find the right unit for your handwashing needs. Visit our website to learn more about portable hand washing stations, or follow our social media channels!