Making sure holiday foods are prepared safely

Published 7:45 pm Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Over the next few weeks, families and friends will be digging into plenty of good food. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service is issuing food safety recommendations for Christmas, New Year’s Eve and other festive gatherings to alleviate the possibility of foodborne illnesses and ensure a healthy holiday season.

A FoodKeeper app is also available to help people evaluate the freshness of items in their refrigerator and pantry and offers storage advice on more than 400 different food and beverage items. The app can also help consumers decide what foods and ingredients to keep and what to throw away, as well as guidance on how to properly handle leftovers, which will be in abundance after holiday meals.

Foodborne illnesses can be very scary. Some, like Salmonella or E. coli, can be very serious and life threatening. It is imperative for those preparing food for their family or guests to be vigilant when handling, cooking and storing food items.

Foodborne illness comes from eating contaminated food and causes an estimated 48 million cases and 3,000 deaths each year in the United States. The onset of symptoms may occur within minutes to weeks and often presents itself as flu-like symptoms, as the ill person may experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or fever. Because the symptoms are often flu-like, many people may not recognize that the illness is caused by harmful bacteria or other pathogens in food.

Although everyone is at risk for getting a foodborne illness, some people are at greater risk for experiencing more serious illness or even death should they get a foodborne illness. Those at a greater risk include infants, young children, pregnant women and their unborn babies, older adults and people with weakened immune systems.

This holiday season, be sure to use safe practices when preparing, handling and storing food. For more information, visit or