The Missouri Health Department is offering food-safety tips for the holidays to avoid foodborne illness.
• Clean - Wash hand and surfaces often. When preparing food, wash hands thoroughly by scrubbing with soap and warm water for 15 seconds. Keep food-preparation surfaces clean, as well, by washing with warm soapy water.
• Separate - Don't cross-contiminate. Keep raw meat, poultry, fish and their juices away from other foods. After cutting raw meats, wash cutting boards, utensils and countertops with hot, soapy water. These items can be sanitized using a solution of one tablespoon of ordinary liquid chlorine bleach in one gallon of water after washing and rinsing.
• Cook - Cook foods to proper temperature to assure that bacteria present in raw foods, which can cause food-borne illness, are eliminated in the cooking process. A chart for minimum cooking temperatures for food from the USDA can be found at www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/mintemp.html.
• Keep hot foods hot - When serving, use chafing dishes, crock pots and warming trays to keep food hot. Use a food thermometer to make sure the internal temperature of the food is 135 degrees or higher and stir the food frequently to maintain a uniform temperature.
• Keep cold foods cold - Store cold foods in the refrigerator until serving time. On the buffet table, place plates or bowls of cold food on ice. If food has been sitting out at room temperature for more than two hours, throw it out. After two hours, bacteria can easily multiply and cause food-borne illness.
More information about food safety can be found at www.foodsafety.gov.