Holiday Top 10 Food Safety Tips (cont.)

  • Reheat leftovers to 165 degrees. Filling a plate of food and popping it into the microwave for a few minutes may seem safe enough. But, says Cody, you really need to use a thermometer to make sure all the food is reheated enough to kill bacteria. "Microwaves heat in an uneven manner, so let the covered food sit for a minute or two to let the heat destroy any bugs, then check the temperature all around the plate." she recommends.
  • Keep guests (and sticky fingers) out of the kitchen. "Holidays occur during cold and flu season, which further compounds the fact that about half of all people have staph aureus bacteria on their fingertips," says Cody. "So it is important to prevent anyone from picking at the food while it is being prepared," She suggests serving simple appetizers to give guest something to nibble on until the meal is ready.
  • Serve only pasteurized apple cider. Most juices, including apple cider, are pasteurized to destroy any harmful bacteria. While you can buy unpasteurized juice, it will contain a warning that it can cause serious illness in vulnerable people. "To be on the safe side, serve pasteurized cider at your holiday gatherings," says Blakeslee.
  • Be egg-stra careful with eggs. Many eggnog recipes call for uncooked eggs, but Marcia Greenblum, RD, MS, of the Egg Nutrition Center says "to be perfectly safe, you need to use pasteurized eggs or cook the eggs yolks lightly with the sugar (recipe below) to be sure you kill any potential salmonella bacteria." She also advises that eggs be kept refrigerated until ready for use and always cook egg products to 160 degrees. See below for a recipe for cooked eggnog.

    Cooked Eggnog

    WebMD Weight Loss Clinic members: Journal one serving as 1 cup 1% milk.

    6 large eggs

    1/4 cup sugar

    1/4 teaspoon salt

    1 quart 1% milk, divided

    1 teaspoon vanilla

    Garnishes (optional)

    • In large saucepan, beat together eggs, sugar and salt, if desired.
    • Stir in 2 cups of the milk. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick enough to coat a metal spoon with a thin film and reaches at least 160 degrees.
    • Remove from heat. Stir in remaining 2 cups milk, and vanilla.
    • Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, several hours or overnight. Just before serving, pour into bowl or pitcher.
    • Garnish with nutmeg, if desired. Serve immediately.

    Per serving: 88 calories, 3 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 29 calories from fat, 110 mg cholesterol, 119 mg sodium, 154 mg potassium, 9 g carbohydrate, 6 g protein.

    Yield: 12 servings

    Recipe reprinted with permission from the American Egg Board.

    SOURCES: Marcia Greenblum, MS, RD, director, nutrition and food safety, Egg Nutrition Center. Missy Cody, PhD, RD, head of the Division of Nutrition, Georgia State University. Karen Blakeslee, MS, food scientist, Food Science Institute, Kansas State University. CDC. Partnership for Food Safety Education web site: "Safe Food Handling."

    Reviewed on November 14, 2007
    © 2007 WebMD Inc. All rights reserved.

    Last Editorial Review: 11/14/2007