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Avoid food poisoning by properly handling and cooking food PDF Print E-mail
Written by Holyoke Enterprise   

State health officials recently reminded Coloradans about the importance of properly handling and preparing foods to avoid getting sick from food this holiday season.

Therese Pilonetti, program manager for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Division of Environmental Health and Sustainability, said the most frequent causes of foodborne 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.

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

She provided the following tips for keeping foods safe:

—Cool all leftovers to 41 degrees 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 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 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.

The number of days a frozen turkey takes to thaw in a refrigerator depends on the size. A turkey 4-12 pounds takes one-three days to thaw; 12-16 pounds, three-four days; 16-20 pounds, four-five days; and 20-24 pounds, five-six days.

—To avoid spreading illness to others sharing a meal, do not prepare or handle foods if ill.