Health District Advises Food Safety Important During Holidays

The Corpus Christi-Nueces County Public Health District has some advice for residents when preparing their favorite foods for holiday gatherings. Lauren Rabe, Program Manager for the Environmental and Consumer Health Services Division, said there are food safety guidelines erveryone can take to prevent food borne illnesses.

There are four basic food safety measures that can prevent foodborne illness:

CLEAN: Wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling any food; wash food-contact surfaces (cutting boards, dishes, utensils, countertops) with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item and before going on to the next item; rinse fruits and vegetables thoroughly under cool running water and use a produce brush to remove surface dirt; and do not rinse raw meat and poultry before cooking.

SEPARATE: keep raw eggs, meat, poultry, seafood, and their juices away from foods that won’t be cooked; consider using one cutting board only for foods that will be cooked and another one for those that will not; keep fruits and vegetables that will be eaten raw separate from other foods such as raw meat, poultry, or seafood—and from kitchen utensils used for those products; and do not put cooked meat or other food that is ready to eat on an unwashed plate that has held any raw eggs, meat, poultry, seafood, or other juices.

COOK: use a food thermometer to make sure meat, poultry, and fish are cooked to a safe internal temperature. For example, a turkey is safe when the temperature reaches 165°F; if the turkey is stuffed, the temperature of the stuffing should be 165°F; bring sauces, soups, and gravies to a rolling boil when reheating; cook eggs until the yolk and white are firm; and don’t eat uncooked cookie dough, which may contain raw eggs.

CHILL: refrigerate leftovers and takeout foods—and any type of food that should be refrigerated within two hours; set your refrigerator at or below 40°F and the freezer at 0°F;

never defrost food at room temperature. Food can be defrosted safely in the refrigerator, under cold running water, or in the microwave. Food thawed in cold water or in the microwave should be cooked immediately; allow the correct amount of time to properly thaw food. For example, a 20-pound turkey needs four to five days to thaw completely when thawed in the refrigerator; don’t taste food that looks or smells questionable; and leftovers should be used within three to four days.

Following these food safety tips will help keep your family healthy and safe this holiday season. Media members with interview requests, contact Public Information Officer Noelia Rodriguez at (361) 826-7200 or at