Foodborne Illness Traps to Avoid During the Holidays

As 2018 has shown us, foodborne illness is a problem to be vigilant against all year round. According to headlines, it seems like there are endless opportunities for individuals to face a food safety scare. That being said, the holidays seem only to multiply those opportunities for foodborne illness.

One reason many feel inherently more secure with their holiday meal is that it is often homemade. For a multitude of reasons, consumers tend to view their homecooked meals with less suspicion than those brought to them by professional food handlers. We do not view our meals with the same sense of unknown – we know how it was prepared therefore we believe it must be safe.

Obviously, this logic has some pretty significant gaps in it and again those gaps only grow during the holidays. The unpredictability resulting from thawing large poultry or from multiple courses with different cook times and resting periods would make this challenging for even the savviest of home cooks.

This article will focus specifically on holiday challenges and ways to address them, but as a general reminder you should cook your meats to following temperatures:

  • 145 F for beef, pork, lamb or veal

  • 145 F for fish

  • 160 F for hamburger or other ground meat

  • 165 F for all poultry

And remember to always check with a thermometer and to thoroughly clean food thermometers between uses to avoid cross contamination. Now back to the holidays!



Defrosting the bird (or other main course)


It’s a simple rule and one that should be followed no matter how pressed for time you feel. Large pieces of meat thaw unevenly, thus a portion of the bird or roast may have thawed and begun growing bacteria before another portion is even soft.

Your fridge sits at about 40 degrees Fahrenheit, just outside of the window of temperatures that promotes bacterial growth (46 F – 140 F), while still being above freezing, which allows the meat to thaw safely.



Separate utensils

We don’t often think of cross contamination as a particular threat since in our eyes it all ends up in the same plate. However, when preparing the meal, it is important to use separate utensils and serving platters for everything you cook. Your guests will thank you for it later.



Leftover tips

Leftovers are objectively the best part of the holiday meal. Evidence of a gift that keeps on giving. But that gift can turn sour if not properly stored. Make sure that any leftover are cooled at room temperature before storing and that they stored within 2 hours of being done (remember this when planning cook times and ordering). Any leftover should be eaten within 48 hours and if you are freezing leftovers, make sure to eat them within 24 hours of thawing.

PathSpot believes that the holidays is the last moment when you should be worried about the safety of your food. So, enjoy the holidays and festive meals with your family this holiday season and follow these guidelines to avoid any unexpected surprises.


If you’d like to learn more about PathSpot and how we’re trying to eliminate foodborne illness through technology, click here.


Dutch Waanders