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Ensuring safety of holiday meal. (Food).

It's time to relish the flavors of your favorite holiday meal. Before you serve it to your family and friends, though, are you sure it's safe to eat?

According to statistics released by the Federal government, 76,000,000 Americans are sickened each year from food poisoning. Mishandling of food at home contributes to this number. So, as you take out the china and gather your loved ones for that special celebration, make sure these tips from the American Dietetic Association are on your holiday "to do" list:

Wash hands often. Everyone loves to help with the cooking during the holidays, but too many well-intended chefs can mean an increased risk of food-borne illness. Wash hands often and thoroughly in warm, soapy water before, during, and after meal preparation. Bring cheer to hand washing by singing your favorite holiday song for 20 seconds while you lather up.

Keep raw meats and ready-to-eat foods separate. Deck your kitchen with two festively colored cutting boards--one strictly for raw meats and the other for ready-to-eat foods. When juices from raw meats or germs from unclean objects accidentally touch cooked or ready-to-eat foods (such as fruits or salads), cross-contamination can occur.

Cook to proper temperature. Take the guesswork out of cooking your bird by using a meat thermometer. Harmful bacteria are destroyed when food is cooked to proper temperatures. A meat thermometer is the only reliable way to check the doneness of cooked foods. What's more, your meat will cook to perfection!

Refrigerate promptly below 40 [degrees] F. Before you relax and savor the success of your holiday spread, refrigerate perishable foods quickly and store them at the proper temperature to slow bacteria growth and prevent food-borne illness. Leftovers should be refrigerated within two hours after being served. Make sure your refrigerator is set at 40 [degrees] F or below.

Joy to leftovers. Holiday meals often bring leftovers. Follow these tips to make sure you don't get sick the second time around:

* Separate leftovers into shallow containers (two inches or less).

* Remove turkey from the bone and store it separately from the stuffing and gravy. Slice breast meat; legs and wings may be left whole.

* Use turkey and stuffing within three to four days, gravy within one to two days.

* Reheat leftovers to 165 [degrees] F

* When in doubt, throw it out!
COPYRIGHT 2001 Society for the Advancement of Education
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:food handling
Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2001
Previous Article:Don't take a holiday from your prescriptions. (Medication).
Next Article:Avoiding holiday debt blues. (Shopping).

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