Food Safety Tips for the Holidays


According to Public Health — Seattle & King County, as much as 60% of foodborne illness may come from cooking at home.

During the holidays, take these important safety precautions to avoid giving the gift of sickness to your guests (or yourself):

Safety precaution #1: Wash your hands

  • Before touching utensils (e.g., knives, cutting boards, pans)
  • Before you touch food that will not be cooked (e.g., salad, fruit)
  • After going to the bathroom
  • After touching raw meat, fish or poultry
  • After taking out the garbage, sneezing or coughing

Safety precaution #2: Keep foods safe from cross-contamination

Cross-contamination happens when germs from uncooked or unclean foods gets onto foods that will not be cooked before eating.

Safety precaution #3: Cool foods properly

Not cooling food the right way is the biggest cause of foodborne illness.

  • If food has been sitting at room temperature (in the "danger zone") for up to 2 hours, refrigerate it or reheat it.
  • After food has been sitting out for 2 to 4 hours, throw it out.
  • Do not cover hot food until it has cooled to 41° F or below.

Safety precaution #4: Heat foods to the proper temperature

Move foods quickly through "THE DANGER ZONE", the temperature range where germs can grow most quickly and easily. Your job is to get foods through the "danger zone" as quickly as possible by cooking, cooling, or reheating in the right way.