If it's your turn to host the holiday dinner, and you've never done it before, food poisoning might be the last thing on your mind. Unfortunately, when it comes to holiday dinners, food poisoning should be one of the first things on your mind. You see, most holiday menus contain a plethora of foods that are ripe for causing food poisoning. Luckily, there are some safety precautions you can take to make sure your guests don't go home sick, or worse, end up in the urgent care center. Here are four precautions you can take during meal prep that will help protect your guests from food poisoning:
Take Care of Your Turkey
If you're going to be serving turkey at your holiday gathering, you'll need to take care of how you handle it. First, never leave your turkey out on the counter to thaw it out. The warm air could speed up the growth of bacteria that causes food poisoning. Instead, take your turkey out of the freezer a few days in advance, and let it thaw out slowly in the refrigerator. Second, either cook the stuffing separately or stuff the turkey right before you place it in the oven. You don't want to give the turkey juices enough time to soak into the stuffing mix. Finally, make sure your turkey is cooked all the way through. The best way to do that is by using a food thermometer, or by purchasing a turkey with a pop-up button. The button will pop up as soon as your turkey is done to perfection.
Dedicate Space to Your Fresh Vegetables
If you're going to be serving fresh vegetables, including tossed salads, make sure you dedicate space to their preparation. This means you should have a separate cutting board and knives that are used exclusively for your fresh vegetables. Turkey juice and other drippings can contaminate your fresh produce, which can lead to a bad case of food poisoning.
Keep Your Deviled Eggs Cold
If you're going to be serving deviled eggs, don't let the name fool you. Deviled eggs should never be left in the heat. They should be kept good and cold. That's because the egg yolk and mayonnaise used to create the tasty appetizers can turn bad in the heat, which will increase your guest's risks of developing food poisoning. Once your deviled eggs are prepared, place them on a serving tray, and store them in the refrigerator until you're ready to serve them to your guests.
Do a Thorough Clean-Up
If you're going to be setting your food out on the kitchen counters, be sure you do a thorough clean-up after you're done with the preparation. Germs and bacteria could be hiding on the surface of your counters. Fill a spray bottle with water and add about ¼ cup of bleach. Using the solution to wipe down your counters will kill the germs and bacteria that could make your guests sick.