Richland Public Health urges holiday meal safety


Richland Public Health wants everyone to remain healthy for the holidays. Here’s a quick reminder about the importance of food safety, especially with Holiday Meals in the coming months. The Four Steps To Food Safety can help prevent food-borne illness in the home.

1) Clean. Everything that touches food should be clean. Cleanliness is a major factor in preventing foodborne illness. Consumers have a role in ensuring that food is handled safely after it is purchased.

2) Separate. Fight cross-contamination! Cross-contamination is the transfer of harmful bacteria to food from other foods, cutting boards, utensils and hands.

3) Cook. Use a food thermometer in cooking. Using a food thermometer is the only way to tell if food has reached a high enough internal temperature to destroy harmful bacteria (germs). Use a food thermometer to measure the internal temperature of foods, such as meat, hamburgers, poultry, egg casseroles, and any combination dishes to ensure that a safe temperature is reached and that harmful bacteria are destroyed. For a guide to safe cooking temperatures for various foods see

4) Chill. Make sure the temperature in the refrigerator is 40° F or below and 0° F or below in the freezer. Use a refrigerator/freezer thermometer to check the temperature. Harmful bacteria grow most rapidly in the Danger Zone—the unsafe temperatures between 40 and 135° F — so it’s important to keep food out of this temperature range. Refrigerate or freeze perishables, prepared food, and leftovers as soon as possible. Food needs to cool to 70° F in two hours and to 40° F in no more than six hours.

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