Food Focus – Safety For the Holiday Season
Written by Hana Klimczak, for ARAMARK Food Safety Newsletter
Food is a central part of holiday celebrations. Since bacteria can be found on almost all foods, it is a good idea to follow a few simple food safety tips to reduce the risk of food borne illnesses. This is especially important with people who are more vulnerable, such as older adults, pregnant women, young children, and all people with weakened immune systems.
Exercise caution when handling this holiday treat. Homemade eggnog can contain harmful bacteria if it is not prepared safely. If you are making eggnog, make sure it is heated to at least 71C (160F), or use pasteurized egg and milk products, available for purchase in many grocery stores. Store the eggnog in the refrigerator. Commercial or store-bought eggnog is made with pasteurized eggs and does not require heating to kill bacteria. Similar precautions should be taken with any other holiday treat made with raw or lightly cooked eggs, such as sauces and mousses.
Some holiday drinks, such as apple coder and mulled cider are unpasteurized, and may contain harmful bacteria. Generally, juices and ciders purchased from local orchards, farmers markets, or the ones packed on ice or refrigerated in the grocery store have not been pasteurized while products that are packaged in cans or bottles have been. To be safe, when purchasing ciders, look at the information on the label. If the product is unpasteurized, or if you are unsure, bring it to a boil before serving.
- Baked Goods
Raw eggs used in making cookie dough, batters and frosting can contain Salmonella. Cook or bake the sweets thoroughly, and avoid eating raw cookie dough, or licking the spoon while preparing holiday treats. Bacteria also grow quickly in products containing dairy products. Make sure that cheesecakes, cream pies and desserts with whipped cream are refrigerated until serving.
- Foods stored in oil
Homemade products in oil are popular holiday gifts. However, they may not always be safe. If fresh ingredients are used in preparation, such as peppers, mushrooms, fresh herbs and spices, the product needs to be kept in the refrigerator and be consumed within a week. However, if the ingredients are dehydrated herbs and spices, the product is safe to be held at room temperature. When buying an item in a store, read the label. If the ingredients include vinegar, or salt, they are generally considered safe. If you receive oils with fresh ingredients as a gift and you do not know the preparation date or whether it has been refrigerated, discard it.
- Homemade antipasto
If antipasto is made with fish, artichokes and other vegetables that have low acidity, they should be kept in the refrigerator at all times, and used within a week. If you receive homemade preserved antipasto as a gift, it may not be safe to eat. Use the same precaution as with ingredients made with oil – when in doubt, throw it out.