Shiawassee County Health Department Offers Holiday Food Prep Tips
Posted by Uplift Shiawassee at 3:15pm 11/23/17 HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
Christina Simmons

The Shiawassee County Health Department wishes you a happy and healthy holiday season. Because holidays present many unique food safety challenges, consumers should follow basic food safety tips when handling, preparing and cooking foods for friends and relatives.

Below are a few simple guidelines and reminders to make sure your holiday celebrations are both happy and healthy:

  • Clean: Wash hands and surfaces thoroughly and often. Illness-causing bacteria live and survive on many surfaces in your kitchen; including your hands, countertops, sinks, utensils, etc.

  • Separate: Don’t cross-contaminate. Even after you have properly cleaned your hands and all surfaces, illness-causing bacteria can still spread to ready-to-eat foods, unless you keep them separated. Use separate cutting boards and separate utensils for produce and for meat, poultry, seafood and eggs. Designate one cutting board for fresh produce and another cutting board for raw meat, poultry, and seafood. Once a cutting board develops hard-to-clean grooves, it’s time to replace it. Separation of fresh produce and meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs should also be applied when grocery shopping, bagging groceries and for storage in the refrigerator. Also, it is important to make sure surfaces/spills are properly cleaned and sanitized after food preparation involving raw meats and eggs to prevent cross contamination.

  • Safely Thaw Your Turkey: Thaw turkey in the refrigerator, in a sink with very cold water changed every 30 minutes, or in the microwave prior to cooking. Avoid thawing foods on the counter. A turkey must thaw at a safe temperature to prevent harmful bacteria from growing rapidly.
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Make sure your fridge and freezer are at the correct temperature, especially if there is a large volume of food stored inside. The fridge should be set between 32°F and 40°F. The freezer should be 0°F or below.

Do not over-stuff or over-load your fridge; to properly chill food, cold air must be able to circulate.

Pre-chill ingredients for cold salads in order to chill quicker after preparation.

If storing warm leftovers, rapidly chill by breaking down into smaller, shallow containers.

Thawing: When thawing, do not thaw or marinate foods on the counter. Plan ahead and use an approved method, such as in the refrigerator ahead of time, in cold running water, or in the microwave before cooking.
  • Monitor Dates: It is important to check for expired dates, and do not keep leftover food for too long to prevent illness. Know when it is time to throw food out. For more information on storage times for both the refrigerator and the freezer visit

  • Always Use Pasteurized Eggs and Milk: Salmonella and other harmful bacteria can live on the inside and outside of normal-looking eggs. Raw or unpasteurized milk and products made with raw milk can also contain harmful bacteria such as Listeria and E. coli. Therefore, it is extremely important to use pasteurized products to help prevent illnesses. In addition, avoid eating raw dough and batter to prevent the risk for foodborne illnesses.

  • Stay Healthy: Do not prepare foods for others if you are ill, especially with diarrhea and/or vomiting. Be especially careful when you prepare food for children, pregnant women, those in poor health, and older adults to prevent illness.

Keeping food safety in mind this holiday can help to ensure that you and your loved ones stay healthy during special holiday feasts. Call us at (989) 743-2390 with any questions or concerns.

The Shiawassee County Health Department wishes you a very happy and healthy holiday season!
  • Cook: Cook to the correct temperature. Illness-causing bacteria multiplies quickest in the “Danger Zone” between 41°F and 135°F. Steps to keep your foods out of the danger zone area: Use a food thermometer, keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot, do not leave food out of temperature control as much as possible. If cooking food ahead of time or keeping leftovers, cool warm foods quickly by placing in shallow/loosely covered pans in the refrigerator. When reheating food, ensure the internal temperature reaches at least 165°F. For more information regarding proper cooking temperatures visit

  • Chill: Refrigerate food promptly. Cold temperatures inhibit the growth of illness-causing bacteria, so it’s important to chill food quickly. Here are some tips: