Food Safety Tips for Healthy Holidays
Oakland County, MichiganNewsFood Safety Tips for Healthy Holidays

Food Safety Tips for Healthy Holidays

Release Date: 11/24/2013 7:00 PM
Contact: Kathy Forzley, Oakland County Health Division Manager/Health Officer
Contact Phone: 248-858-1410
Pontiac, Michigan -- County Executive L. Brooks Patterson encourages residents to follow the four basic steps of food safety this Thanksgiving. Oakland County Health Division says the four steps are “clean, separate, cook and chill” to help keep the holidays healthy.

"To prevent harmful bacteria from making your family and friends sick this holiday season, it is important to follow food safety guidelines," said Kathy Forzley, Health Division manager/health officer. "Remember to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold."

Hot foods should be held at 140 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer. On the buffet table, keep hot foods hot with chafing dishes, slow cookers and warming trays. Cold foods should be kept at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or colder. Keep foods cold by nesting dishes in bowls of ice and replenish the ice as it melts. Otherwise, use smaller serving dishes and exchange with cold dishes of food from the refrigerator at least every two hours.


  • Wash hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before and after handling food.
  • Keep food preparation surfaces clean.
  • Rinse fruits and vegetables under running water and use a brush to remove any dirt so bacteria cannot spread from the outside in. Avoid washing meats, poultry or eggs.

Separate - Don’t Cross Contaminate

  • When transferring meats, poultry or seafood, secure in plastic bags to keep the juices contained.
  • Wash all plates, utensils and cutting boards that held raw meat, poultry or seafood before reusing for perishable or cooked food.
  • The juices of raw meat or poultry should never come in contact with cooked meat or other ready-to-eat foods.


  • Meat, poultry and seafood should be cooked for a long enough time at a high enough temperature to kill harmful bacteria that can cause foodborne illness.
  • To check the temperature of a turkey, stick the thermometer into the inner most part of the thigh and wing and into the thickest part of the breast. The turkey is done when the temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • When reheating sauces, soups and gravies, bring them to a rolling boil.


  • Refrigerate foods and leftovers within two hours of serving to avoid bacterial growth. Cold foods should be stored at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below.
  • Defrost foods in the refrigerator, under cold running water, or in the microwave. Cook foods thawed under cold running water or in the microwave immediately.

Typical symptoms of foodborne illness include stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhea. Symptoms are not usually long-lasting in healthy people, but foodborne illness can be severe and even life-threatening to older adults, infants, young children, pregnant women, or people with HIV/AIDS, cancer or any condition that weakens the immune system.

For more information, call 800-848-5533 or visit or Facebook and Twitter @publichealthOC.

For media inquiries only, contact Kathy Forzley, Oakland County Health Division manager/health officer at 248-858-1410.