Holiday Feast Safety Tips

Holiday Feast Safety Tips

Food poisoning outbreaks increase during the holiday season, most cases attributed to meat. Take note of the proper food safety precautions so your guests can stay comfortably stuffed.


If your holiday feast involves a turkey, handle it with care from thaw to finish. Defrost your turkey in the refrigerator, using the microwave, or by soaking it in cold water that is changed out every half hour. Never leave a turkey out to thaw at room temperature; it can quickly reach an unsafe temperature that promotes harmful bacterial growth.

Separate and Clean

Always disinfect any surface that comes into contact with raw meat; this includes countertops, hands, and utensils. Before preparing the next portion of your meal, put all utensils and dishes that touched the raw meat into the dishwasher, disinfect anything you or the meat may have touched, and wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and antibacterial soap. Use a new, clean set of utensils and preparation ware to cook your side dishes. Keep your raw meats away from your raw produce at all times.


If you’re stuffing your turkey, cook the stuffing in a separate dish before filling your raw turkey with it. Then, immediately place the turkey into an oven set at 325 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Cooking time depends on the size of your turkey, but you can figure out if your turkey is fully cooked using a food thermometer. Make sure the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit by inserting the food thermometer into the very center of the turkey and into the thickest sections of meat. Wash the thermometer with warm, soapy water after every use. Let the turkey cool for 20 minutes before carving.


Within two hours of preparation, put all leftovers into a refrigerator set at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. Use clean, shallow containers to store your leftovers, and try not to overfill your fridge. Throw away any food that sits out longer than two hours. Cooked meats can be stored for only three to four days before it’s time to throw it out.

Symptoms of food poisoning include cramps, fever, vomiting and diarrhea. If you experience symptoms of food poisoning, visit your St. Joseph Health primary care physician. Severe cases can include bloody stool and dehydration, in which you may need to visit your nearest emergency room.


CDC - Food Safety Tips for your Holiday Turkey

CDC - Food Safety - Clean - Cook - Storage Times for the Refrigerator and Freezer

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