As the countdown to 2024 begins, celebratory get-togethers need to prioritize food safety. Amid the excitement and festivities, it’s crucial to ensure that the New Year’s Eve spread is not only delicious but also safe from potential foodborne hazards

Here is some advice to keep your celebrations foodborne illness-free:

Cook Food Thoroughly: Use a food thermometer to ensure meat, chicken, turkey, seafood and eggs are cooked to a safe internal temperature. Allow roasts, chops, steaks, and fresh ham to rest for 3 minutes after cooking.

Keep Food Out of the “Danger Zone”: Refrigerate or freeze perishable food within 2 hours of cooking to prevent bacterial growth. Maintain refrigerator temperatures at or below 40°F and freezer temperatures at or below zero degrees F.

Use Pasteurized Eggs: When preparing dishes containing raw eggs, such as eggnog, tiramisu, hollandaise sauce and Caesar dressing, opt for pasteurized eggs to minimize the risk of Salmonella. Adding alcohol to egg nog does not kill bacteria or viruses.

Avoid Raw Dough and Batter: Raw dough or batter made with flour or eggs can harbor harmful germs, including E. coli and Salmonella. Refrain from tasting or eating raw dough intended for baking or cooking.

Keep Foods Separated: Prevent cross-contamination by keeping meat, chicken, turkey, seafood, and eggs separate from other foods.

Practice Hand Hygiene: Wash hands thoroughly before, during, and after preparing food, before eating, after handling pets, using the toilet, changing diapers, or touching garbage.

Extra Precautions for Pregnant Women: Pregnant women are at an increased risk of food poisoning. Avoid raw or unpasteurized milk, soft cheeses made from raw or unpasteurized milk, and raw or unpasteurized juice and cider.

Be Cautious with Seafood: Choose shelf-stable smoked seafood or thoroughly cook refrigerated smoked seafood in a dish.

Beware of Unpasteurized Juices: Check for warnings on unpasteurized or raw juices, and consider boiling them to eliminate harmful bacteria.

By following these food safety guidelines, individuals can ensure a healthy and joyous start to the new year, preventing potential foodborne illnesses that could dampen the festivities. Taking a moment to prioritize food safety is a simple yet crucial step in safeguarding the well-being of friends and family.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)