Make Time for Food Safety this Holiday Season

November 25, 2015

One of Georgians’ favorite times of year has arrived again. Food lovers get the chance to enjoy their beloved seasonal foods while cooks show off their latest skills in the kitchen. 

With all the hustle and bustle around traveling, grocery shopping, meal prepping and family gatherings, it may be easy to forget the importance of food safety. 

Practicing proper food preparation and handling is always important, especially during the holiday season. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that 48 million people get sick from foodborne illnesses each year. 

Data from DPH’s Acute Disease Epidemiology Section also reveals a trend among foodborne illnesses in Georgia throughout the months of November, December and January.

While these are months we spend the most time celebrating with food and family, it’s also the same time of year where cases of reported food poisoning or other food-related illnesses spike. 

To keep your holiday guests happy and safe, the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) encourages everyone to remember the basics of food safety as you prepare and enjoy your holiday meals.
Follow these four simple steps to proper food preparation and handling: 
  • Clean – Wash hands with soap and warm water before and after handling raw food. Ensure all surfaces and utensils are cleaned with soap and hot water before use, and wash all produce under running water before eating, cutting or cooking.
  • Separate – It’s important to use separate plates and utensils to avoid cross-contamination between raw meat, poultry, seafood, eggs and foods, such as precooked foods or raw vegetables.
  • Cook – Cook foods to the safe temperature by using a food thermometer. Every meat type requires different heating temperatures. For all raw beef, pork, lamb, veal steaks, chops and roasts, cook to a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Ground meats, including ground beef, pork, lamb and veal, must be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Poultry must be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.   
  • Chill – Chill foods promptly if not consuming immediately after cooking. For leftovers, discard any food left out at room temperature for more than two hours. It’s best to use leftovers within four days after initial cooking. 

Follow these four easy steps to food handling and you'll be on your way to a safe, memorable and delicious holiday meal! To learn more about food safety, including tips and food storage information, visit the Check Your Steps website provided by

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