Keeping Food Safety on the Front Burner for Christmas

By Kerri Lindberg, LMC Dietary Intern

As we begin to delve deeper into the season of fancy foods, now is the time to briefly review important food safety when cooking our favorite holiday meats. After all, foodborne illness is a quick way to dampen anyone’s holiday.

From the store…
Fresh chicken, turkey, fish, or shellfish: use in 1-2 days
Fresh beef, lamb, pork, veal: use in 3-5 days

To the preparation…
Keep in mind, these temperatures should always be taken in the thickest part of the very center of the cut of meat. When stuffing poultry, be sure the stuffing reaches the proper temperature also.
Beef, veal, lamb, pork, Cornish hens, fish, shellfish: 145°F
Ground Beef: 160°F
Whole Turkey and Chicken: 165°F
Stuffing: 165°F minimum
Wild Game: 165°F
Eggs, venison: 160°F

And back for more…
Leftovers should be used in 1-4 days and need to be reheated to 165°F

Here’s a safe way to prepare a potentially unsafe holiday favorite:

Egg Nog
Yield: 2 quarts Serving size: ½ cup


1 quart of 1% milk
6 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup half-and-half, whipped
ground nutmeg

Remember: A dash of rum won’t make it safe! Alcohol cannot be relied upon to kill bacteria.

• Heat milk in large saucepan until hot (do not boil or scald). While milk is heating, beat together eggs and salt in a large bow l, gradually adding the sugar.
• Slowly add the hot milk mixture to the egg mixture stirring continuously.
• Transfer the mixture back to the large saucepan and cook on medium-low heat. Stir constantly with a whisk until the mixture thickens and just coats a spoon .The food thermometer should register 160° F. Stir in vanilla .
• Cool quickly by setting pan in a bowl of ice or cold water and stirring for about 10 minutes.
• C over and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, several hours or overnight.
• Pour into a bowl or pitcher. Fold in whipped cream. Dust with ground nutmeg and enjoy!

Recommendations provided through USDA and CDC.

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