Do you have family favorite recipes that you will be using during the holidays? Most of us do. In fact, preparing favorite recipes is a holiday tradition for most families. However, many of us may be using recipes that are out-of­date with what we know about food safety. Prevent food borne illness during the holidays by reviewing your recipes to make sure they are still safe. Here are a few suggestions:

Oven Temperature

Use a minimum oven temperature of 325 degrees for cooking meat, poultry and casseroles containing them. Lower temperatures may not heat the food fast enough to prevent bacterial growth.


We know that raw eggs might contain salmonella, which can cause food borne illness. But many of us still lick the cake batter from the bowl or taste raw cookie dough. One taste is enough to make us sick if salmonella is present. Consider the following when cooking with eggs:

* Cook eggs, whether scrambled, fried, poached, soft-cooked, made into an omelet, etc., until the yolk and white are firm, not runny.

* Avoid recipes in which eggs remain raw or are only partially cooked. A favorite pie recipe of many families contains sweetened condensed milk and raw eggs. Choose another recipe in which the eggs are cooked.

* Eggnog can be safely made using a stirred custard base. Be sure to chill it in a shallow container before serving. Loosely cover to allow heat to escape and to protect it from accidental contamination during cooling.

Stir occasionally to help it cool; use a clear spoon each time. Cover tightly when cooled.

Paper Bags

Some recipes, especially for turkey and some pies, call for cooking the food in brown paper grocery bag. This is not a safe practice. The bags are not food safe and not meant to be used in this manner. During the cooking process, chemicals in the paper may break down and leach into the food being cooked.

Meat and Poultry

Judging meat doneness on whether it is “brown inside” not always a reliable method. The only way to really know if it is done is to use a meat thermometer. Also, as part of safe preparation, do not partially cook or brown foods to cook later. Any bacteria present will not be destroyed. Use these recommended internal temperatures for doneness:

*Ground beef, veal, lamb and pork: 165 degrees

*Ground chicken and turkey: 165 degrees

Be sure to thoroughly cook ground meat and poultry before combining with other ingredients in casseroles, meat sauces, etc.

*Cured ham, fully cooked: 140 degrees

*Fresh ham (raw): 160 degrees

*Whole chicken, turkey: 180 degrees

*Poultry breasts: 170 degrees

*Poultry thighs, wings: 180 degrees (Juices will run clear when cut.)

*Stuffing (cooked separately): 165 degrees

Using a food thermometer helps assure that your food reaches a safe internal temperature. A thermometer also helps you avoid overcooking a food and lowering its taste and quality.


Marinades help flavor in meat and poultry. They do not kill bacteria. Here are some general guidelines for using marinades:

*Marinate in a covered container in the refrigerator, not on the counter. A glass container is a safe choice for marinating.

A lock-top plastic bag also works well. Acidic ingredients in some marinades such as wine, vinegar and lemon juice could react with certain metallic or glazed ceramic containers and · leach into the food being marinated.

*Marinating time in the refrigerator should not exceed the recommended storage time for that type and cut of fresh meat or poultry. The recommended storage time for most fresh meats and poultry is 2-3 days after purchase. If you are not certain how long to marinate a particular food, for best safety, limit time to 24 hours or less.

*If some of the marinade is to be used for basting during cooking or as a sauce on the cooked food, reserve a portion of the marinade and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. Do not put raw meat or poultry in it.

*When basting do not recontaminate fully cooked meat or poultry by adding sauce with a brush that has been used on raw or undercooked foods.

*For greatest safety, do not re-use leftover marinade.

Featured Recipes

Walford Salad

1 cup chopped celery 2 apples, chopped

½ cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

½ cup low fat vanilla yogurt 1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon sugar (optional)

Combine celery, apples and walnuts in mixing bowl. In another bowl, combine yogurt with lemon juice and sugar. Add celery and apple mixture.

Mix the dressing into the fruit. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serves 6 (1/2 cup serving).

Holiday Peppermint Pie

1 ready made chocolate cookie crumb pie crust

8 chocolate covered peppermint patties, broken into quarters

1/4 cup milk

1 (8 ounce) tub frozen non-dairy whipped topping, thawed

Place peppermint patties in a microwave safe bowl and add milk. Microwave high (100%) 30-45 seconds. Stir until candy is melted and mixture is smooth. Cool. Fold in non-dairy topping.

Spread into crust. Cover and place in freezer. Garnish pie with crushed and white peppermint candies. Per serving: 250 calories, 12 grams fat.

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