With the COVID pandemic, many people may be cooking holiday meals for the first time or finding that there are more leftovers than past years. It is always good to refresh on food safety guidelines before embarking in the kitchen. Follow these tips to prevent outbreaks of food borne illnesses.

Areas that are of concern when it comes to food safety:

  • Hand hygiene
  • Cross contamination
  • Proper holding temps
  • Proper storage of leftover foods


Reviewing the Basics​:
  • Wash your hands often: ​after returning from the store, unpacking groceries, before handling foods, after handling raw foods, and after using the restroom.
  • Wash with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Disinfect cooking surfaces and cutting boards after use.​​
Prevent Cross Contamination​:
  • In the grocery store​, keep raw meats, poultry and fish separate from other groceries, check for any leaks, place in plastic bags to avoid any juices contaminating the other groceries​
  • Refrigerator storage: ​refrigerate perishable food within 2hrs. Keep raw meats on the lowest shelves of the refrigerator. This lessens the likelihood of raw meat juices leaking onto other foods.
  • Food preparation: keep raw foods separate from cooked foods. Clean and sanitize cooking utensils and cutting boards after they have touched raw meats. Use separate cutting boards​ for meats and produce. Disinfect the sink and any areas/ surfaces that may have been contaminated or are frequently touched.​
  • Serving Foods​​: Serve on clean plates and with clean utensils. Do not reuse tools or plates that raw meat has touched.
  • Defrost foods safely​: Thaw foods, covered, in the refrigerator; keeping any raw meats or fish in the lowest part to avoid contamination.

  • Keep raw meats, poultry, and fish separate​.

  • Keep food covered and stored until you are ready to cook them​.


  • Cook to the proper internal temperature to kill harmful bacteria. Cooking temperatures can be found on the USDA’s website (Basics for handling Food Safety). Consider using an instant read thermometer​.

  • Allow cooked meat to rest for 3 minutes​​


  • Serve foods on clean plates, and use clean utensils​. Avoid ones that may have touched raw meats or fish.
  • Hold cold foods at their proper temperature and hot foods at their proper temperature ​
  • Discard food if it has been left out for 1-2hrs at room temperature (depending on the food item)​


  • Use shallow containers to allow for cooling of foods. Refrigerate or freeze promptly​.

  • Consume cooked leftovers within 4 days​


Safe and Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to everyone!