Food is often a part of the holidays that can add to celebrations with family and friends. Favorite drinks, desserts and main dishes remind everyone of important traditions as gatherings occur. The fun and happy memories can come to a quick end when improperly handled food causes illness. Make sure your patients are aware of important food safety recommendations from FoodSafety.gov. Key points of food safety include the following:
Before preparing any food or beverage make sure all who will be involved thoroughly wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. It is also important to clean all surfaces that will come in contact with hands or foods. Be sure to also recommend thoroughly washing all fruits and vegetables even if the item will be peeled prior to use as bacteria on the surface can be transferred as the item is peeled or sliced. Recommendations stress not washing uncooked meats, poultry and eggs as this process can cause bacteria to transfer to other surfaces and cause cross-contamination. During the food prep process hands, surfaces and utensils should be re-cleaned whenever necessary to avoid the transfer of bacteria.
The next important concept regarding food safety is to keep meat, poultry and egg products separate from all foods that will be consumed raw or without additional cooking. Bacteria can be present on the surfaces of meat, poultry and eggs that will be destroyed during the cooking process. If the bacteria is allowed to touch other items that won’t be cooked, the risk of cross-contamination is high. This separation must be maintained throughout the entire exposure to the foods, beginning when the food is selected during the shopping process and continuing through storage and preparation. Separate plates, cutting boards and utensils.
To continue the food safety discussion, remind patients to always cook foods to recommended temperatures. Minimum cooking temperature charts are available on the FoodSafety.gov website.
The final consideration with foods safety is to be sure that patients refrigerate leftover foods promptly, within 2 hours. Patients should also thaw or marinate foods under refrigeration.
For additional information, visit https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/index.html