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Fun, friends, and food safety for the holidays

Can you believe 2019 is winding down? Many of us can remember the fears of Y2K a mere 20 years ago! Halloween is behind us and in less than a week it will be Thanksgiving, the prelude to all of the festivities to be celebrated in December. There will be a lot of sharing of food and fun with family and friends. Food safety is an important part of the festivities. 

The Columbiana County Health Department offers some tips about food safety this holiday season. Cleanliness is next to godliness, they say. It also cuts down on germ growth on the foods you prepare and serve.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise washing your hands before, during and after preparing food, after touching raw meat, raw eggs, unwashed vegetables, before eating and drinking, before and after caring for someone who is sick, before and after treating a cut or wound, after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, after using the toilet, after changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet, after touching an animal, animal feed or animal waste, and after touching garbage.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) explains the four steps for food preparations:

– Clean.

– Separate.

– Cook.

– Chill.

Wash your hands, cutting boards and utensils you use to prepare food. Start clean and finish clean to reduce exposing foods to germs that can cause food poisoning. Use soap and warm water to wash your hands for 20 seconds, both before and after you have handled foods.

Don’t share trays, cutting boards and utensils that have been used to prepare raw foods with foods that will not be cooked. The juices of meats, poultry, seafood and eggs may contain germs that can cause food poisoning. Each time a tray or platter needs refilled, use a clean tray or platter because of the number of people who handle it.

A thermometer should be used to take the guesswork out of when cooked foods are completely cooked. You can find cooking charts online at www.foodsafety.gov/food-safety-charts/safe-minimum-cooking. Before serving roasts, chops, steaks and fresh ham, let them rest three minutes after removing them from the oven or grill.

Bacteria grow rapidly at room temperature. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. And refrigerate or freeze perishable foods within two hours of serving. Use the leftovers that are not frozen within three or four days.

Your refrigerator should be set at 40 degrees F. or lower, the freezer at 0 degrees F. or lower.   

The health department  offers a monthly person-in-charge program which is open to any resident of the county and is free of charge. The two hour class covers food safety practices for all facilities including grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants, and nursing facilities. All facilities are required to have a person-in-charge, someone with management background to train others at the facility in food safety practice. The next class will be 9 to 11:30 a.m. Monday, Dec. 9. Class size is limited. To schedule the class, contact Sandra at the health department’s food safety program.

The Columbiana County Health Department has been serving the safety and well being of county residents for 100 years. The health department is located at 7360 State Route 45, Lisbon; phone, 330-424-0272.

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