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Food Safety During the Holidays

Published on Nov. 23, 2021

The holidays have arrived! During your celebrations this year, it’s important to practice food safety. Doing so can prevent many upset stomachs or unhappy trips to the emergency department. Here are three safety tips to stay healthy when it comes to preparing food.


The kitchen counter is at a height that can be easily reached by many young children. With festivities going on, it’s easy for any child to go unsupervised even for a minute. Make sure all pots and pans on the stove are turned so the handles face the back where little hands can’t accidentally tip over anything hot or boiling. Additionally, knives and other sharp utensils should be placed away from countertop edges.

Temperature danger zone

What’s more important than finding a turkey this holiday? Making sure the entire turkey is fully cooked! A simple food thermometer can ensure that meats and other large dishes are heated to a minimum of 145-165 degrees Fahrenheit depending on the dish. This allows any bacteria on the food to be killed off. What about all the leftover food?  It’s best to throw out any food that has been left out at room temperature for more than two hours. Otherwise, they can be stored in the fridge at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or colder for up to three to four days. When you’re ready to enjoy them again, reheat dishes to at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit and let cool before serving.

Food safety tips for a healthy holiday

Cleaning up

Good hand hygiene is by far the best way to stay healthy when it comes to preparing and eating foods. Hand washing with soap and water should be done before, during, and after cooking to prevent cross-contamination of food. This is especially important when handling raw meat. Always wash your hands for at least 20 seconds (long enough to sing the Happy Birthday song twice!) before and after eating. Lastly, dishes, utensils, cutting boards, and countertops should be washed with hot, soapy water to get rid of any bacteria lurking on the surface.

Want to learn more about food safety year-round? Visit for additional information on how you can keep your family safe when it comes to food. There you can find temperature charts for cooking and storing many different types of food and dishes, and stay up to date on the latest food recalls to prevent food poisoning in your household. Happy holidays and bon appétit!


About the Author

Dr. Karen Wong is a third-year pediatric resident with Valley Children’s Pediatric Residency Program and will graduate in June 2022. She is interested in advocating for healthy food options and empowering her community to eat for a healthier lifestyle. “I love to show families different strategies to reduce unhealthy foods from their diet and incorporate healthier options in a way that is fun for both parents and children,” says Dr. Wong.