Don’t Hurl the Bird

How to keep your family healthy during the feast

It doesn’t matter what faith, belief, or tradition we celebrate, gathering with family and friends over the roast beast is one thing we all look forward to.  Every year 4 million Canadians get sick from improperly handled/prepared food.  Flu like symptoms and food poisoning are very similar with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and fever.

Here’s 7 Simple Tips I use to prevent food poisoning in my home

1.       Appropriate storage of foods

Did you know you can get Botulism from not refrigerating carrot juice?  Or from storing baked potatoes in aluminum foil? (I won’t do that again.)  Store food properly.  Keep your cold food cold and hot food hot.  Look here for more information on how long foods are good for.  Thaw foods properly and put away left overs within 2 hours after cooking.

2.       Get ready

No I don’t meditate first.  To get ready I get my hair out-of-the-way.  Tie it back or clip it up so my guests aren’t munching down on more than my gourmet meal.  I wear clean cloths and roll up my sleeves, so unwanted ingredients don’t fall into my creations.

3.       Wash hands often

Think of meat as glue.  We handle the meat, rinse our hands under the tap, wipe them on the towel or dishcloth, then open the fridge, cupboard, spice jars etc. The offending poison is now everywhere.  To prevent the spread of potentially harmful pathogens I wash my hands with soap and very warm water often while preparing foods.

4.       Start with a clean kitchen 

Clean and organize your space.

Clean and organize your space.

I put away or remove any clutter, do the dishes or at least put them in the dishwasher.  Wash the counters and stove top with warm soapy water using a clean dishcloth, paper towel or a new sponge.  Then I’ll have room and clean surfaces to work on.

5.       Use Clean dishes

I know this sounds silly, but think about it for a moment.  When was the last time you used the platter, roasting pan or casserole dish?  A week ago, a month ago, maybe six months ago.  If you have pets or small children there’s more than a layer of dust lurking on these surfaces.  I learned my lesson in a rather embarrassing way.  While eating his dinner, my son discovered a ball of dog fur mixed in his food.

6.       Don’t Cross Contaminate

The most meticulous of Chefs like my sister-in-law Lori, use designated cutting boards for vegetables, poultry, beef etc. where she keeps them stored in a clean and dry place.  Cutting boards come in a variety of colors to keep us organized.  Also when they become well used with many cross cuts in them, I discard them and get new ones.  Many ridges mean many places for bacteria to hide.

7.       The Clean-up           

I clean as I go along including handles of the pots or knives I used.  After the meal I clean the counters and stove top and put everything away.  Then my kitchen is ready for the next adventure.

I hope these tips help you and your loved ones stay healthy.

What do you think?  How do you keep your family food safe at home?

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