MANSFIELD — Richland Public Health wants everyone to remain healthy for the holidays. Here’s a quick reminder about the importance of food safety, especially with Holiday Meals in the coming months.
These four steps to food safety can help prevent food-borne illness in the home:
1. Clean: Everything that touches food should be clean. Cleanliness is a major factor in preventing food-borne illness. Consumers have a role in ensuring that food is handled safely after it is purchased.
2. Separate: Fight cross-contamination. Cross-contamination is the transfer of harmful bacteria to food from other foods, cutting boards, utensils and hands.
3. Cook: Use a food thermometer in cooking. Using a food thermometer is the only way to tell if food has reached a high enough internal temperature to destroy harmful bacteria (germs). Use a food thermometer to measure the internal temperature of foods, such as meat, hamburgers, poultry, egg casseroles, and any combination dishes to ensure that a safe temperature is reached and that harmful bacteria are destroyed. For a guide to safe cooking temperatures for various foods see richlandhealth.org/for-homes/food-safety-at-home.
4. Chill: Make sure the temperature in the refrigerator is 40° F or below and 0° F or below in the freezer. Use a refrigerator/freezer thermometer to check the temperature. Harmful bacteria grow most rapidly in the Danger Zone—the unsafe temperatures between 40 and 135° F — so it’s important to keep food out of this temperature range. Refrigerate or freeze perishables, prepared food, and leftovers as soon as possible. Food needs to cool to 70° F in two hours and to 40° F in no more than six hours.
For more complete information on the Four Steps To Food Safety, see www.richlandhealth.org or click the link at the top of the page. You will also find information about preparing the Thanksgiving Day turkey.
Also, it’s important to follow healthy guidelines over the holidays, particularly when groups are gathering for meals.
(1) Wash your hands frequently.
(3) Stay at home if you are ill.
(4) Get a flu shot if you haven’t already (available at Richland Public Health: 419-774-4540 to schedule an appointment).
The temptation to visit family for the holidays should not overcome the need to keep everyone from getting ill. Have someone bring you leftovers.