Be "food safe" this holiday season

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- On Nov. 11, 2015, the 366th Medical Group public health flight hosted a holiday food safety booth at the commissary. If you didn't get a chance to visit, don't worry. Whether you're a seasoned chef or just proud of your ability to boil water, following the tips below will reduce the risk of a foodborne illness ruining your holiday celebrations.

Clean: Wash your hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before and after preparing food. Wash all utensils, dishes and countertops. Rinse fresh produce with water.

Separate: Avoid cross-contamination by keeping raw meat, poultry and their juices separate from fruits, vegetables and cooked foods. Never use a utensil on cooked foods that was previously used on raw foods unless the utensil is washed first with soap and water.

Cook: Use a food thermometer when cooking meat and poultry to make sure your meal is cooked to a safe internal temperature. Turkey, stuffing, casseroles and leftovers should be cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Beef, veal and lamb roasts should be cooked to 145 degrees. Ham, pork and egg dishes should be cooked to 160 degrees.

Chill: Leftovers should be refrigerated within two hours of being cooked. Keep the refrigerator at 40 degrees or below. Never thaw a turkey, ham or other frozen meat at room temperature. Thawing should be done in the refrigerator. Allow two and one-half hours to three hours per pound for thawing time. That equates to 24-36 hours for a 12-pound turkey. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.

For holiday parties: Never partially cook foods to be finished at a later time.  Thoroughly chill foods to be transported and avoid cooking them more than 12 hours ahead of the event. Check with the host to be sure there is adequate room to safely store your dish before and after the meal. If you do not have reliable coolers, opt for foods like snacks, cookies and cakes that can be safely transported without chilling.

Be "Food Safe" this holiday season. Happy eating!

For the additional food safety tips, visit or contact Public Health at DSN: 728-7820.