Food Safety Tips over the holidays

Wednesday, 20 December 2023 14:27

Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit
December 19, 2023

It’s that time of year again when families and friends get together to celebrate and that usually means food is involved.  Safe food preparation matters because slip ups in food safety can result in your guests getting sick.

There are rules we can all follow to help us enjoy our food this season:

Separate to Prevent Cross contamination:

  • Ensure raw foods are stored below ready to eat food to prevent accidental drips full of bacteria.
  • Cover meat and place in a pan or tray while thawing in the refrigerator. 
  • Use separate utensils for raw and ready to eat food.
  • Cover all foods prepared ahead.

Keep things Clean

  • Wash your hands before your begin preparing food, after handling raw meat/foods or dirty items, and before you eat.
  • Wash and sanitize utensils and surfaces.
  • Wash fruits and veggies before you cut and serve them, even those you intend to peel.
  • Sanitize your probe thermometer between uses when doing temperature checks.

Be aware of cooking temperatures

  • Cook recipes to the required internal temperature - remember cooking kills bacteria and viruses. (we have a resource on our website; lots of people print it and keep it on their fridge)
  • Be sure of the internal temperature - Use a probe thermometer to ensure the internal temperature has been reached as oven temperatures can vary as well as length of cooking time required.
  • Avoid cooking turkey at low temperatures over extended time periods as this can leave food in the temperature danger zone. Remember to check out this resource on the Health Unit website Lets_Talk_Turkey.pdf (

Keeping things chilled 

  • Thaw in the refrigerator not at room temperature.  Ensure raw meat is covered and stored on a tray in the refrigerator to thaw. Allow sufficient time for safe thawing
  • Ensure all potentially hazardous foods are refrigerated at 4oC or lower until ready to serve
  • Cool left overs quickly by reducing container/portion size.  Shallow pans work well.

Reducing the spread of illness when gathering around food

  • Sharing utensils is a main culprit for spreading viruses – norovirus, RSV, flu and covid can be found on surfaces so cleaning utensils and making sure you wash your hands after touching serving utensils are good practices.

For more information, visit the Health Unit website’s Food Safety at Home page at  or call 1-800-660-5853.Important public health updates are also available by connecting with @LGLHealthunit on Facebook, X (formerly Twitter) and @lglhealthunit.z on Instagram.