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Holiday Food Safety

Starting date:
December 10, 2014
Posting date:
December 10, 2014
Type of communication:
Information Update
Microbiological - Other, Other
Source of recall:
Health Canada
Food Safety, Important Safety Information
General Public
Identification number:


Food is an important part of holiday celebrations, but turkey, baked goods, eggnog and buffets can cause foodborne illness (also known as food poisoning) if they aren't prepared and handled safely. The most common symptoms of food poisoning are stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and fever.

Here are the four basic steps you need to follow to protect yourself and your family fromfood poisoning:

  • Clean: When you prepare food, wash your hands and surfaces with warm, soapy water.
  • Separate: Separate raw foods, such as meat and eggs, from cooked foods and ready-to-eat foods.
  • Cook: Cook food to the safe internal temperature. You can check this by using a digital food thermometer.
  • Chill: Refrigerate food and leftovers promptly at 4°C (40°F) or below.

Remember, you cannot tell if food is contaminated with harmful bacteria by the way that it looks, smells or tastes. When in doubt, throw it out!

Turkey and stuffing

If you are cooking a turkey this holiday season, make sure it is cooked properly by checking the internal temperature with a digital food thermometer. The thermometer should be inserted into the thickest part of the breast or thigh. Cook turkey to a minimum internal temperature of 85°C (185°F).

To avoid cross-contamination, cook stuffing separately--either in its own oven dish or on the stove top. If you do stuff your turkey, stuff it loosely just before roasting and remove all stuffing immediately after cooking. Cook stuffing to a minimum internal temperature of 74°C (165°F) and refrigerate within two hours of cooking.


Kids love to lick the spoon or beaters clean, but they are the ones most likely to get sick from doing it. Dough, batter or frosting that contains raw egg may also contain bacteria such as Salmonella, which can cause severe food poisoning.


Eggnog is a holiday favourite. Store-bought eggnog is pasteurized and does not require heating to kill harmful bacteria. If you decide to make eggnog at home, heat the egg-milk mixture to at least 71°C (160°F) and then refrigerate in small amounts using shallow containers so it cools quickly.

Holiday buffets

The most important food safety tip to consider when preparing a buffet meal is to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. To keep food hot, use warming trays, chafing dishes or crock pots. To keep food cold, put serving trays on crushed ice.

Refrigerate leftovers as soon as possible, no more than two hours from the time the food was cooked. If perishable foods have been sitting out at room temperature for more than two hours, throw them out!

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