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KEEP THE HOLIDAYS BACTERIA FREE

5 Holiday Hacks to stay Bacteria-free this Christmas

The Holiday season is everyone's favorite time of year, but unfortunately it’s also the time of year where bacterial growth is at its highest peak. When temperatures drop, we start encountering viruses like the common cold and influenza more frequently. Not only are our bodies at risk for catching viruses, but we are more than likely surrounded by the ones you love, who are just as susceptible. The holiday season is the most favorable season to eat and cook with your loved ones. Whether you’re an experienced cook, a first-time holiday party host, or simply adding a dish to the potluck lineup... the holidays are a time to take food safety protocols very seriously.

Here are 5 Food Safety Hacks to keep your holiday season bacteria free.

1.) Wash your hands
Washing your hands is the best way to remove germs, avoid getting sick, and prevent the spread of bacteria to your loved ones. Banish bacteria by washing hands before and after handling meats and produce. Hand washing is a win for everyone, not just you. Repeat after me: Wet, Lather, Scrub, Rinse!

2.) Cook food thoroughly
Cook each dish at the correct temperature that the recipe calls for, and before serving anything to your family or friends, double check to ensure its cooked all the way through. Meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs can carry germs that cause food poisoning. One of the safest ways of controlling contamination from bacteria is using a food thermometer. Safe minimum internal temperatures vary in different types of meats commonly cooked. Using a thermometer can ensure that the food has reached the correct temperature that will destroy any harmful bacteria. 

3.) Stay away from the “Danger Zone”
The temperature range in which food-borne bacteria can grow is known as the Danger Zone.

This is very important when it comes to thawing your poultry, meats, and seafoods safely. As soon as these products begin to thaw and become warmer than 40 °F, bacteria that may have been present before freezing can begin to multiply. You can safely thaw your products in 3 different ways: In the microwave, in cold water, or in the refrigerator. Another tip to consider to avoid the Danger Zone - Don't let your post dinner drowsiness get in the way of safety and packing up remaining food properly. Refrigerate uneaten food within two hours of cooking to prevent bacteria growth. Leftovers is one of the best parts of holiday parties!

4.) Avoid eating dough or batter
Attention: Kids (and some sneaky adults): Keep your fingers out of the cookie dough bowl! Uncooked dough and batter made with flour or eggs can contain harmful bacteria germs such as E Coli and Salmonella. As tempting and delicious as the dough may look, the health risks are not worth it. Keep dough and batters refrigerated if not being used, and make sure to throw out any extra dough over 4 days of refrigeration. 

5.) Keep foods separated 
There are many different serious food allergies. Whether your niece is actually gluten intolerant, or she just likes to avoid it, be sure to know exactly what's in each food prepared and inform your holiday guests. Keep meat and seafood separate from all other foods and prevent juices from leaking onto the other prepared foods. Foods kept at different temperatures should be on different plates to avoid possible bacterial growth. Salads should go next to the other salads, and the meats should go next to the other meats.