A year-round food safety guide to help keep yourself and your guests safe while entertaining.
Happy holidays! This season of goodwill and giving thanks is also a festive celebration of food. Make this holiday feasting season a healthy one by keeping foods safe.
Preventing foodborne illness is easy as...
- Clean - Wash hands and surfaces often.
- Separate - Don't cross-contaminate.
- Cook - Cook to proper temperatures.
- Chill - Refrigerate promptly.
For more information about the 4 Simple Steps to Food Safety, see Lifelong Food Safety.
During the holidays, there are lots of delicious foods to choose from. Some of these foods may contain raw or lightly-cooked eggs. Bacteria might be inside some raw eggs, but you can safely enjoy these foods by simply cooking raw eggs and egg-containing foods thoroughly.
Chocolate, macaroons, and gingerbread...Treat yourself to freshly-baked treats, but avoid taste testing raw cookie dough, cake batter, or pie filling if they contain raw eggs.
If any of your holiday recipes call for raw or lightly-cooked eggs, you can:
- Use store-bought products of the foods listed above, which are often already cooked or pasteurized.
- Make recipes that call for raw eggs safer by adding the eggs to the amount of liquid called for in the recipe, then heating the mixture thoroughly. See Quick Recipe Fixes below.
- Purchase pasteurized eggs. These eggs are heat-processed to kill harmful bacteria. They can be found in some supermarkets and are labeled "pasteurized." Here are several types consumers can buy:
- Fresh, pasteurized eggs in the shell (found in the refrigerator section).
- Liquid, pasteurized egg products (found in the refrigerator section).
- Frozen, pasteurized egg products (found in the frozen food section).
- Powdered egg whites (found in the baking section).
Quick Recipe Fix: Chocolate Mocha Mousse
- In a pan, melt the chocolate with the amount of liquid called for in the recipe.
- Add the eggs to the mixture. Continue to gently heat the mixture until it reaches the safe temperature of 160° F (71° C). Use a food thermometer to check the temperature.
- When you've added all the ingredients, cool the mixture quickly by setting the pan in a bowl of cold water.
- Stir mixture occasionally for about 10 minutes. Then continue to follow the rest of the directions.
Quick Recipe Fix: Custard or Cream Pies
Option #1: Cook the egg mixture for custard or cream pie fillings on the stovetop to 160° F (71° C). Use a food thermometer to check. Then follow the recipe's directions.
Option #2: If baked in a pie shell from scratch, be sure the filling reaches 160° F (71° C). Use a food thermometer to check.
Nothing inspires the holiday mood more than the pleasant scents of vanilla and nutmeg! To start your holiday celebration, try this safe recipe for eggnog. Or, make a toast to the season using store-bought, pasteurized eggnog! Cheers!
- 1 quart of 2% milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 6 eggs
- 1 cup whipping cream
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- whipped ground nutmeg
- ½ cup sugar
Calories: 135 per ½ cup
Cholesterol: 120 mg per ½ cup
Yield: 2 quarts
- Heat milk in large saucepan until hot (do not boil or scald). While milk is heating, beat together eggs and salt in a large bowl, gradually adding the sugar.
- Gradually add the hot milk mixture to the egg mixture while continually stirring.
- Transfer the mixture back to the large saucepan and cook on medium-low heat. Stir constantly with a whisk until the mixture thickens and just coats a spoon. The food thermometer should register 160° F (71° C). Stir in vanilla.
- Cool quickly by setting pan in a bowl of ice or cold water and stirring for about 10 minutes.
- Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled several hours or overnight.
- Pour into a bowl or pitcher. Fold in whipped cream. Then dust with ground nutmeg.
'Tis the Season to Chill!
Bacteria can multiply quickly in moist desserts that contain dairy products. Cold temperatures keep most harmful bacteria from multiplying, so keep these foods refrigerated:
- Cream pies, cakes with whipped-cream and cream cheese frostings, and other creamy desserts
- Cold pasta dishes with meat, poultry, seafood, or dairy products. Quiches and soufflés, especially if you aren't serving them immediately.
- Reheat them to 165° F (74° C) before serving. Use a food thermometer to check.
The Joy of Giving and Receiving Food Safely
How can you be sure that food arrives safely during holiday shipping? The key is careful planning...
MAILING A Perishable Food Gift....
- Make sure the food is frozen solid or refrigerator cold.
- Use an insulated cooler or a heavy corrugated box packed with a frozen gel-pack, or purchase dry ice for keeping food cold.
- Alert the recipient ahead of time and set a mutually-agreeable delivery date.
- Properly label the package: "Perishable - Keep Refrigerated," on the outside, and provide a complete mailing address and phone number to ensure proper delivery.
- Ship your package by overnight delivery.
Tips for MAIL-ORDER FOOD GIFTS
When you send food via a mail-order company, be sure to specify overnight delivery, and request that the company supply a frozen gel-pack or dry ice in the packaging. This will help ensure that the food will arrive at your destination firm and refrigerator cold.
RECEIVING A Perishable Food Gift...
- Open the package upon arrival.
- Make sure the food is still refrigerator cold.
- Immediately refrigerate or freeze the food.
- If perishable food doesn't arrive cold, don't eat it, and notify the shipper immediately.
Note: Remember, it's the shipper's responsibility to deliver perishable foods on time, but it's the customer's responsibility to have someone at home to receive the package.