Tips to enjoy a safe, delicious holiday dinner

  • Dec. 20, 2004 7:00 a.m.

Although you may be expecting a guests for your holiday dinner, food poisoning isn’t one of them.
Common bacteria found in poultry and other items in the kitchen can turn a delicious meal into diarrhea, abdominal pain and vomiting. By taking the proper precautions, holiday chefs can ensure their festive creations do not become a painful nightmare.
Help make your feast a safe and enjoyable by following these simple tips:
Basic food prep
· Thoroughly wash your hands with warm water and soap before handling any food.
· Wash all produce.
· Start with clean, sanitized food prep surfaces. After use, wash and sanitize all utensils and food prep surfaces with five millitres (one tsp.) bleach per litre (four cups) – especially important after working with raw meat and poultry.
· Do not leave raw meat, poultry, eggs, or dairy to sit out on the counter.
Finish all food prep within two hours when working with these ingredients.
· Avoid advance cooking or preparation where possible, as this allows bacteria to grow, especially if food is stored in danger zone temperatures
– 4º C (40º F) to 60º C (140º F).
· Heat destroys most bacteria, parasites, and viruses. Follow the required cooking temperature as indicated by cookbooks. Remember 74º C (165º F) for poultry, stuffing, and ground meats.
· Cold temperatures slow bacteria growth so keep foods refrigerated at 4º C (40º F).
Getting that bird ready
· Thaw in the fridge at 4º C. This takes a long time so
plan ahead. Allow five hours per pound.
· Do not cook partially frozen poultry as the outside will be overdone before the inside has reached a safe temperature.
· Cook all parts of a bird to at least 74ºC (165º F). As a precaution, a stuffed bird should reach 82º C (180ºF). Use a meat thermometer to confirm.
· Drumsticks should pull easily away when your bird is ready.
Stuffing
· The safest way to cook stuffing is on the stove or in the oven-not in the bird
· If you are cooking stuffing in the bird, stuff just before placing in oven, never the day or night before.
· Stuff loosely to allow even heating.
· The final cooking temperature of stuffing inside a bird should reach 80º C (180º F). Always confirm temperature with a thermometer.
Leftovers
· Refrigerate or freeze leftovers within two hours of cooking.
· Cut poultry into slices before refrigerating. Remove stuffing from turkey, refrigerate separately.
· Cool and refrigerate gravy no more than two to three inches deep in containers.
· Use leftovers within two or three days.
· Make sure all leftovers are reheated to 74º C (165º F).
· When in doubt about leftovers, throw it out!

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