During the holiday season, there is a general expectation that all those festive dinners will catch up to us. Every year, meals are enjoyed as a feast for the senses and heading back into the kitchen for a second helping is almost expected. Overeating, a little winter weight gain, and a healthy glow are ordinary effects of the holiday diet. Taken in moderation, rich holiday spreads will do little to your body coupled with regular exercise. However, there are some unexpected hazards one should be privy to in order to avoid serious health risks —mainly foodborne illnesses and stomach flu.
Foodborne Illness Is More Common Than You Think
Getting sick during the holidays from food is not uncommon. According to the CDC 1 in 6 Americans develop an illness due to improperly handled food. Holiday meals are cooked with love and attention, but bacteria can thrive in fully cooked meals if not properly handled. Furthermore, the threat of cross-contamination should not be taken lightly and can be avoided with careful preparation in the kitchen. By following a few basic food handling safety tips, many health hazards are avoided.
Kitchen Prep: What not to do and what you should do
While in the kitchen always wash your hands before handling food. Use fresh ingredients to avoid soured or moldy substances entering dishes that can cause illness. To avoid cross-contamination, make sure fresh produce is put safely away from meats. To prepare meat, it must be cooked thoroughly. If using raw vegetables and fruits, a gentle rinse with water should carefully cleanse produce. Alternatively, a produce cleaner can be purchased from the supermarket for ensured safe to eat fruits and veggies. Finally, surfaces and utensils used for preparing meat must never come into contact with fresh produce, as this would ensure cross contamination.
How to handle Leftovers
Secondly, once the food is cooked and prepared carefully for eating, storing the food is equally important. Food left out for more than two-hours is no longer safe to eat. For this reason, it is important to properly store holiday trimmings for enjoyable leftovers. Bacteria can double within 20 minutes once your food reaches a resting temperature between 40F and 140F. As a general rule, place food in shallow containers before refrigerating, to allow for quick cooling.
Common foodborne pathogens include Campylobacter, E. Coli, Noroviruses, and Salmonella. All of these pathogens cause harsh stomach trouble from diarrhea, cramps, and nausea, which would certainly change your holiday plans. Fortunately, by taking the above precautions these illnesses can be avoided. In the case of Campylobacter, this pathogen is found in raw milk and raw poultry. The simple trick of purchasing pasteurized milk, and or cooking poultry thoroughly can help avoid such illness. Similarly, undercooked beef and unpasteurized dairy cause E. Coli, which is a severe foodborne illness that can lead to death. Contaminated water, raw produce, infected shellfish and poor food handling are to blame if Norovirus is contracted. Which is in the same vein as salmonella, ingested from poultry, eggs, dairy and raw produce. By taking the above-mentioned precautions, the risks of exposure to such pathogens is greatly reduced.
Close Quarters are Cause of these Steps
Additionally, holiday parties and family gatherings offer flu contaminates a chance to spread. Simple measures can help keep family and friends healthy and not pass around all those germs. By simply washing hands, and not sharing drying towels between healthy and sick members your chances of contracting a contagion decrease. Certainly, we would prefer contagious folks to stay home, but unfortunately, in early stages, some people are unaware they have contracted the flu. In this way, a contagion can spread before notable symptoms. In such scenarios, having a small amount of hand sanitizer to rub between your hands after washing and drying with a towel should help curtail the possible spread. A memorable holiday season should be shared and spent feeling healthy.