Considering the numerous family gatherings that take place during the holiday season, we have collected some simple advice to help you prevent food poisoning and foodborne diseases, so as to make holidays with your loved ones happy and safe.
1) Wash your hands often!
Wash hands with soap and running water for 20 seconds before and after touching raw food, after using the toilet and after shaking hands with a lot of people. In case no running water is available, make sure to bring a hand antiseptic with you. Also, remind your children and guests to wash their hands before meals.
2) Don’t forget about the sink and kitchen countertops!
The kitchen sink is one of the surfaces with the most bacteria in your home. Therefore, keep your sink and countertops tidy and clean in order to avoid the spreading of bacteria.
3) Use separate spoons for tasting and stirring food!
Ideally, you should use a clean spoon every time you taste food. Alternatively, while cooking, put food in a separate container before tasting it. This should prevent the contamination of the food being cooked with the bacteria from your mouth.
4) Make sure the food is properly heat-treated!
Any pathogenic bacteria potentially present in food can be simply and effectively destroyed by proper heat treatment. Make sure that bigger pieces of meat are evenly cooked or roasted. The meat has been properly heat-treated if it can be easily separated from the bone or if no liquid comes out of it after it is pierced with a fork. If you are not sure whether the food has been adequately prepared, we advise you to extend the heat treatment by another 15–30 minutes and continue to entertain guests in the meantime.
5) Don’t leave food out for too long!
Although it is tempting to leave food out so that it is easily available to your guests, bacteria can develop in food left out at room temperatures for too long. After two hours, put the food in the fridge and heat up smaller servings of it when needed.
6) Shop safely!
When grocery shopping, first pick up shelf-stable groceries and save the frozen and easily perishable ones (meat, milk and dairy products) for last, so that they may reach your fridge as soon as possible. As soon as you get home, store the frozen groceries in the freezer, in order to keep them frozen. Immediately store the rest of the groceries in the fridge.
7) Sort your groceries!
During shopping, storage and preparation, keep the raw food separate from the prepared food. This enables you to avoid cross-contamination of the food you bought and ensures its safety and, consequently, suitability for consumption.