BHealthy Blog

4 Tips for Preparing and Serving Holiday Food Safely

The holiday season is a time for family, friends, and of course, food. However, with the increased amount of food prepared and served during this time, there is also an increased risk of foodborne illnesses. Here are 4 simple steps for proper hygiene in the kitchen so you can prepare and serve holiday food safely.

Clean and Disinfect

Maintaining proper hygiene in the kitchen while handling food is crucial. Dirty hands and utensils can spread harmful bacteria, leading to foodborne illnesses. Therefore, it is highly recommended to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food. In addition, it is also important to clean all utensils and cutting boards properly, mainly when used for chopping different foods. Cleaning and disinfecting utensils will help prevent contamination and ensure food is safe for consumption.


To prevent cross-contamination, it’s crucial to separate raw meats from ready-to-eat foods. You can do this by using different cutting boards for raw meat and other ingredients. Raw foods, especially meat, poultry, and seafood, may carry harmful bacteria like Salmonella and E. Coli, which can lead to foodborne illnesses. By separating these foods, you can reduce the risk of contamination and ensure that the food served is safe for consumption.


Cooking temperatures matter. It is crucial to pay attention to cooking temperatures while preparing your meals. Relying solely on visual cues may not be sufficient to determine whether the food is cooked or not, so make sure you invest in a reliable food thermometer so you don’t overcook or undercook your food.

The following chart includes some of the proper minimum internal cooking temperatures: 



Internal Temperature (F/C)

Beef, bison, veal, goat, and lamb

Steaks, roasts, chops

145°F (63°C)


Meat and meatless

165°F (74°C)

Chicken, turkey, and other poultry

All: whole bird, breasts, legs, thighs, wings, ground poultry, giblets, sausage, and stuffing inside poultry

165°F (74°C)


Raw Eggs

Cook until yolk and white are firm

Egg dishes (frittata and quiche)

160°F (71°C)

Casseroles (containing meat and poultry)

165°F (74°C)

Find more information about the safe minimum internal temperature chart here.


During the holiday season, people often prepare large feasts that may include buffets. Chilling the food during this time is essential to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. When perishable items are exposed to temperatures between 40°F to 140°F, it increases the risk of bacteria multiplying. Therefore, storing the food properly and keeping it at safe temperatures is crucial to avoid food poisoning and other health-related issues.

Baptist Health encourages you to help prevent infections by not only washing your hands but also helping your friends and family remember to do so as well. This small change can make a big difference in staying healthy this season.

What if I Get Food Poisoning?

Some of the signs of food poisoning include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Stomach Pain 
  • Weakness

If you or any of your family members experience any of the following symptoms, you can treat it at home by staying hydrated with Pedialyte or formulas that can assist in retaining fluids in the body for a longer period of time. If you start experiencing any signs of severe dehydration, we recommend you contact your Baptist Health Primary Care provider for treatment.