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Keep family and friends safe over the holidays. Some of the most popular holiday foods and events (think eggnog, hot cider beverages and buffet dinners) can be food safety risks. You can help prevent foodborne illness (food poisoning) by following these food safety tips.
Eggnog may be a delicious holiday tradition but it is made with raw eggs, not always a safe bet. Raw eggs may contain the Salmonella bacteria, which can be dangerous to children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with weak immune systems. To be safe, use pasteurized egg products when making eggnog. Pasteurized eggs have been heated to a high temperature that kills bacteria. Pasteurized egg products and pasteurized eggnog can be found in your grocery store.
To prepare that special eggnog family recipe that is made with raw whole eggs, you must heat the eggnog mixture to at least 71ºC (160ºF). After the mixture has stopped steaming, refrigerate in shallow containers so that it cools down quickly.
Other holiday favourites also contain raw eggs. Sauces, mousses and recipes that contain raw or partially cooked eggs should be heated to 71ºC (160ºF). Or better yet, use pasteurized egg products for these recipes. And while you may be tempted to let your children lick the spoon after making cookies, the raw egg batter can be a food safety risk for kids.
Apple cider is a popular holiday drink, but unpasteurized apple cider can be a safety risk – especially to children, the elderly and individuals who have weak immune systems. This is because raw fruit can be contaminated with E.coli O157:H7. While it is quite rare, fruit may come in contact with E.coli through animal droppings or contaminated water.
Your best bet is to choose pasteurized apple cider for the holiday punch bowl. It’s already been heat treated to kill harmful bacteria and has a longer shelf-life. If you are going to serve unpasteurized apple cider, bring it to a rolling boil (when you see large bubbles moving quickly) to kill possible bacteria.
For more information: See Health Canada’s factsheet, Unpasteurized fruit juice and cider
Hosting a party buffet or potluck is a great way to sample a variety of delicious dishes and take the stress out of food preparation. However, food that sits out for a long time can pose a safety issue. Follow these tips:
You’ve been asked to contribute to a friend’s dinner party. Here’s how to bring over that dish safely:
Popular holiday gifts include vegetables and herbs packed in oil – like pesto, sundried tomatoes or garlic oil. While these foods are healthy and tasty alternatives to the usual chocolates and cookies, they can be a risk for foodborne illness (like botulism). Keep these tips in mind:
If you’re not sure about the safety of the product or how it’s been prepared, it is always safer to discard it. *Remember – if in doubt, throw it out.
For more information: See Health Canada’s factsheet, Garlic-in-oil
What would a holiday dinner be without leftovers? To keep your leftovers safe and delicious for the next day(s):
For more safe storage tips: Safe Food Storage
Food Safety Network
Canadian Partnership for Consumer Food Safety Information
Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Food Safety Tips
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