Holiday Food Safety Tips

The Division of Environmental Health (DEH) of the Department of Public Health and Social Services would like the public to follow these four basic steps of food safety during the holiday festivities:

  1. CLEAN: The first rule of safe food preparation in the home is to keep everything clean.

  • Remember to wash your hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before and after handling any food.
  • Wash food-contact surfaces (cutting boards, dishes, utensils) with hot, soapy water after preparing each food and before going on to the next item.
  • Rinse fruits and vegetables thoroughly under cool running water.

2.  SEPARATE: Don’t give bacteria the opportunity to spread from one food to another (cross-contamination).

  • Try to use one cutting board for raw meat, poultry, and seafood and a separate one for fresh produce.
  • Keep seafood, roasts, hams, and other meats and their juices separate from other side dishes when preparing meals.

3.  COOK: Cook food to a high enough internal temperature to kill harmful bacteria.

  • Cook to 165°F for poultry, ground meat, and left-overs.
  • Cook to 145°F for fresh beef, veal, pork, lamb, and fin fish.
  • Bring sauces, soups, and gravies to a rolling boil when reheating.
  • Be sure that eggs and products containing eggs are thoroughly cooked.

4.  CHILL: Refrigerate foods quickly because harmful bacteria grow rapidly at room temperature.

  • Refrigerate leftovers and other types of food that should be chillled within two hours.
  • Keep the refrigerator at 41°F or below and the freezer at 0°F to prevent bacteria from growing.  Never defrost at room temperature; thaw frozen food safely in the refrigerator, under cold running water, or in the microwave. 

For more information, call the Food Safety Program of the Division of Environmental Health at 735-7221.

Skip to content