The University Record, December 10, 1996

Keep the holidays happy with safe food handling methods

By Jared Blank


Maybe this scenario sounds familiar:

You've finished a big holiday meal and there's lots of cleaning up to do. You decide that you're just too tired to clear the dishes, clean the kitchen, and wrap up and put away all the leftovers. So you leave the food out overnight, "What's the worst that could happen?" you think to yourself.

Later that night, a family member looking for a midnight snack starts picking at the extra turkey and stuffing, and not a thought passes their mind that maybe, just maybe, they could contract a foodborne illness because the leftovers have been improperly handled. But the next morning, they're not feeling so great.

Here are a few ways the U-M's office of Occupational Safety and Environmental Health suggests to keep your loved ones (and other relatives) healthy after the big holiday meal:



Wash hands before and after handling foods or touching anything (such as trash) that may contaminate them.


Do not leave food out longer than two hours. Keep hot food hot (140 degrees or above) and cold foods cold (45 degrees or below) so bacteria will not have a chance to grow.


Store hot foods in shallow pans and cut up large pieces of meat to speed cooling.


Use an appliance thermometer to ensure that the refrigerator is functioning properly---at 40 degrees or below.


Keep party foods on ice or serve platters from the refrigerator.


Reheat leftovers to 165 degrees. Gravies, sauces and soups should be brought to a boil.

With a little bit of caution, your family members will remain healthy throughout the holiday season so they will be able to play that new Nintendo game for 75 hours straight.