5 ways to keep your food safe this holiday season
It’s here—the holiday season, which, for most of us, is also eating season.
Not only do we have numerous family meals—often better described as feasts—but our bodies naturally want to stock up on fat supplies as the days grow shorter and colder.
Of course, while food is often the centerpiece of holiday gatherings, too often too little thought goes into keeping everyone safe with all that food around.
With children running about, meals to be planned, last-minute gifts and groceries to be bought, or that one crazy uncle you’ve got to keep entertained, it’s very easy for everyday safety to slip your mind.
That's why today, we bring you five things you should do this holiday season to keep everyone safe in the kitchen and around the dinner table.
5 Ways to Keep Your Food Safe This Holiday Season
Print out this list and put in somewhere everyone can see it. The fridge is a perfect spot.
1. Keep Your Kitchen Safe
Young ones might be helping out with meals. Or simply running around underfoot in a particularly spirited game of tag.
Some are too young to know any better. And even adults who do know better can forget some of the basics when twenty things are happening at once.
So appoint a Safety Czar for the kitchen. And give them this checklist:
Keep all pot and pan handles pointed to the outside of the stove. They shouldn’t hang out in open space where someone passing by can bump them (and spill boiling sauce everywhere). Likewise, they shouldn’t point inward, where a neighboring burner can heat them up—or, in some cases, melt them, releasing toxic fumes.
Keep all knives away from edges. You don’t want a knife to go flying and land in a foot, or worse.
Practice knife safety. Always give knives to someone handle-first, and with the sharp edge facing downward.
Always use hot pads and oven mitts. There’s a delay between when we touch a too-hot item, and we feel it. You don’t want to realize the casserole is too hot to hold as you transfer it from the oven to the counter.
- Set a timer when using heat. You might know exactly when to remove a dish from the oven, but it’s too easy for an inner timer to be forgotten when you’re running around, or if you linger too long on a screen playing your favorite holiday film. (An alarm going off is impossible to ignore.)
2. Keep Raw Meats Separate From Everything Else.
This is second nature for most of us, but if a child is helping out, they might not know that chicken can carry salmonella.
Make sure that your raw meats and your raw veggies each have their own cutting board.
And as soon as you’ve finished using that cutting board, wash it. Or at least put it in the sink. You don’t want someone else to come along and use it, unaware that it already had raw turkey sitting there.
Get that cutting board away from cooking space as soon as it’s out of use.
3. Thoroughly Wash All Greens And Vegetables.
Every few years, a few people die from e. coli poisoning from a vegetable.
We spend so much time worrying about meats, we often forget that vegetables can carry harmful bacteria as well. That's why we recommend using a grapefruit seed extract or a vegetable wash, as they both will neutralize any bad actors.
If you’re making a salad or using vegetables that won’t be cooked, this is especially important.
4. Eat To 80% Full.
This holiday, you won’t get sleepy because of tryptophan in the turkey. (After all, chicken and pork have just as much tryptophan in them.)
No—you’ll get sleepy because of post-prandial glucose levels.
When we overeat—especially carb-heavy meals popular at holiday feasts—our blood sugar levels go through the roof. And when they ultimately come crashing back down, we get what’s commonly called a food coma.
In extreme cases, it can actually lead to a real coma. And, considering that fully ⅓ of all Americans are pre-diabetic, those extreme cases can be more common than you’d expect.
Don’t tell yourself it only happens once a year, so you can get away with overeating—especially since you use the same excuse at every holiday, from Halloween through New Year's.
Your health is worth much more than eating until you feel sick…so be mindful of your portions and stop eating when you’re about 80% full.
Leftovers taste better than second (or third) servings anyway.
5. Store Food Properly.
Some families turn their holiday meals into an all-day affair, with a large meal earlier in the day that is then picked at until the day is done.
That in and of itself isn’t a problem. Indeed, spreading a large meal out over a longer period of time can actually help control your blood sugar, and be a healthier choice.
However, lots of people just leave a buffet of food out for an extended period of time—and that’s risky behavior. (After a few hours, dangerous critters like e. coli and salmonella can start to grow again.)
For some food-borne illnesses, heating food only kills “adult” bacteria, while nascent bacteria are still sitting there, just waiting for food to become lukewarm and, once again, welcoming.
Those nascent bacteria won’t hurt you if you eat them before they activate—our stomach acids make quick work of them.
But if they mature before you ingest them, they will release toxins into your food. And those toxins can make you very ill.
If you will be eating all day, store the food in the fridge until you’re ready to have another plate. Then, heat it back up. Your snack will taste better, and you’ll be much safer for it.
Happy Holidays From Our Tables to Yours
Home is where many will return this season, to be with family or loved ones, and welcome a new year and the hope it brings.
While gatherings may not be the same as in past years, it's still important to safeguard the ones you love against common dangers often overlooked when we're together.
And nowhere is that more important than in the kitchen, and at the dinner table this holiday.
On behalf of the team at Newport Natural Health, Merry Christmas and happy holidays to you and yours.
We hope the 5 tips we shared with you today keep you safe, healthy, and hopeful for the year to come.
Thanks to loyal readers and customers like you, our small business is still here to enjoy another holiday and help you along your health journey.
Take good care.
Disclaimer: Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
Last Updated: December 22, 2020
Originally Published: November 13, 2015