Have a ‘food-safe’ holiday season!

Consumer Federation of America offers tips to consumers to have a ‘food-safe’ holiday season this year.  Food, especially raw foods, can be contaminated with deadly foodborne pathogens.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year 48 million Americans (1 in 6) are sickened by contaminated food, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die. Children, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems are at particular risk of becoming sick from foodborne pathogens.

"Consumers can take steps in the kitchen to help reduce their risk of foodborne illness,’ said Chris Waldrop, director of the Food Policy Institute at Consumer Federation of America. ‘These steps are important when preparing meals for family and friends not just during the holidays, but anytime during the year."

Consumers should follow these four important safe food handling steps: Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill.


  • Wash hands and surfaces often.
  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food and after using the bathroom, changing diapers and handling pets.
  • Wash cutting boards, utensils and countertops before and after preparing each food item.


  • Bacteria can be easily spread throughout the kitchen by cross-contamination.  Separate raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs from ready-to-eat foods and be sure to wash all surfaces, utensils and cutting boards.
  • Use one cutting board for fresh produce and a separate cutting board for raw meat, poultry and seafood.
  • Do not place cooked food on an unwashed plate that previously held raw meat, poultry, seafood or eggs.


  • Cooking food to the proper internal temperature can kill harmful bacteria that can cause foodborne illness. Use a food thermometer to be sure that food is cooked to a safe internal temperature, especially for meat, poultry and egg dishes. The U.S. Department of Agriculture provides a chart of safe cooking temperature here.
  • Cook beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops and roasts to a minimum internal temperature of 145