The holiday season truly can be the “most wonderful time of the year.” With all of the parties, gift giving and feasts, what’s not to like? Well, the holiday season can also be a very stressful time of year and deleterious to one’s health due to overeating, over drinking, an increased level of stress, and last but not least, food poisoning. During the holiday season, leftovers from feasts and parties can be very tasty but if not handled properly, can make people sick, too. We have probably all been there at one time or another in our life and it is no fun having tummy troubles any time of the year, but even less so during the holidays. How can we keep from getting sick during the holidays? When it comes to food preparation and storage, according to the Partnership for Food Safety Education, the best advice is to take the following four steps:
- Clean – Wash hands and surfaces often
- Separate – Do not cross-contaminate
- Cook – Cook to proper temperatures
- Chill – refrigerate food promptly
Here are the specific details for these recommended steps:
- Always wash your hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling food.
- Remember that temperatures between 40° F and 140° F allow bacteria to grow rapidly. Refrigerate cooked leftovers promptly within two hours, or one hour when the temperatures are over 90° F. Use an appliance thermometer to ensure that your refrigerator is at 40° F or below.
- Divide leftovers into smaller portions and store in shallow containers in the refrigerator. Hot food can be placed directly in the refrigerator.
- Leftovers should be reheated to an internal temperature of at least 165° F. Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature. Sauces, soups, and gravies should be reheated by bringing them to a boil.
- When microwaving leftovers, make sure there are no cold spots in food (where bacteria can survive). Cover food, stir and rotate for even cooking. If there is no turntable, rotate the dish by hand once or twice during cooking.
The Partnership for Food Safety Education “saves lives and improves public health through research-based, actionable consumer food safety initiatives that reduce foodborne illness.” They point out that there are limits to leftovers and recommend discarding leftovers in three to four days.
In addition to these suggestions for personal food safety, Birko can help food and beverage processors by providing:
- Over 250 sanitation chemicals
- Dispensing and foaming equipment
- EPA registered sanitizers
- Antimicrobial interventions
- Process aids (antifoams, food grade acids, etc.)
- We also distribute Sterilex products, the only EPA registered biofilm remover currently on the market.
Birko also offers HACCP consultation to help ensure our customers are in compliance with FDA and USDA regulations. In short, we don’t make the food; rather, we help our customers take the preventative steps necessary to ensure that their products get delivered to the marketplace or consumer as safely as possible.