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From the shopping to the leftovers, how to promote food safety this holiday season

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Kirk Heinze, Joyce McGarry

Every family has their holiday traditions, and with the growing amount of foodborne illnesses each year, it’s important to take food safety into consideration while preparing festive meals.

Michigan State University Extension food safety educator, Joyce McGarry, leads the food safety education efforts at MSU Extension. By sharing knowledge about how consumers can properly cook, store and save foods, she hopes fewer individuals will get sick from bad bacterias.

McGarry shares 10 tips for an illness-free holiday season:

  1. Firstly, always washing your hands. “Especially as we are coming into flu season, that is such a crucial part of keeping your food safe,” says McGarry. 
  2. Keep cold food cold and hot food hot. Nothing should be left out for more than two hours.
  3. Use a meat thermometer. “It’s not only about safety, it’s a quality issue- the thermometers make sure you don’t overcook or undercook,” McGarry adds. Also, if you stuff your turkey, ensure the temperature of both the stuffing and the turkey reaches at least 165 degrees.
  4. Do not store food in garages due to inconsistent temperatures.
  5. Frozen and cold food should be purchased at the end of your grocery shopping.
  6. Reusable grocery bags should be washed on occasion.
  7. Always wash fruits and vegetables with cold running water, even if they have been prewashed. “You can wait to wash produce until you are ready to prepare it so it will stay fresh longer.”
  8. Keep pets out of the kitchen and your workplace sanitized.
  9. Count on leftovers lasting three to fours days in the refrigerator.
  10. Thaw your turkey one of these three ways.
  • Microwave, and cook immediately after.
  • Place your turkey in the sink with cold water, changing the water every 30 minutes as it reaches room temperature.
  • Plan ahead and refrigerate your frozen turkey. Thawing can take up to 24 hours for every five pounds.

For more articles and tips like these, visit MSU Extension.

Greening of the Great Lakes airs inside MSU Today Sunday afternoons at 4:00 on AM 870.

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