Health for the Holidays: Food Safety Tips

Roasted Turkey With Meat ThermometerWhether you’re preparing a holiday dish or a holiday feast, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages everyone to practice safe food handling and keep in mind the needs of those who may be vulnerable to food poisoning.

“While you should always practice safe food handling, some guests might be particularly vulnerable to food poisoning, such as older adults, pregnant women, young children and people with weakened immune systems,” said Christina Rollins, clinical dietitian with Memorial Medical Center. “This may also mean taking special precautions and keeping certain high-risk foods off the menu.”

 Food safety tips

Celebrate a happy and healthy holiday season with these tips to keep your food safe and loved ones healthy.  

  1. Wash hands often.
  2. Separate ready-to-eat foods like lettuce from raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs.
  3. Cook to a proper internal temperature.
    • Turkey, chicken, duck, goose, game animals  – 165° F
    • Leftovers (reheated) – 165° F
    • Beef, pork, lamb, veal, egg dishes, game birds – 160° F
    • Fresh ham, fresh pork, fin fish, steak, roast, chops – 145° F
    • Precooked ham (reheated) – 140° F
  4. Refrigerate promptly at 40°F or below within two hours of cooking.

Remember to also take special care during the holidays to ensure that vulnerable guests avoid high-risk foods, such as raw or undercooked eggs, raw or unpasteurized dairy products, raw fish or shellfish, raw or rare meat or undercooked poultry. 

“You might be surprised to learn that French toast, tiramisu, some puddings and even eggnog are on the list of less safe food options for those vulnerable to food poisoning,” Rollins said. “Be sure to carefully plan your menu and shopping list this holiday season to avoid certain foods if necessary.”  The most important food safety tip this holiday season, Rollins adds, is “when in doubt, throw it out!”

For more information on food safety, visit