Holiday Food Safety

The end-of-year holidays often mean LOTS of food. Help keep your family and friends safe from foodborne illness with these tips and resources.

  1. Wash your hands often. 
    When cooking for a holiday meal, there are often many dishes being prepared at once in the kitchen. Wash your hands between tasks, especially when switching from potentially hazardous foods like raw meat to ready-to-eat foods like salad or dessert.
    More information on handwashing in the kitchen

  2. Safely thaw your turkey (or other frozen meat).
    The safest way to thaw frozen meat is in the fridge, and a large turkey may take several days to completely thaw!
    More information on safely thawing your turkey

  3. Cook all foods to their correct temperatures.
    The turkey isn't done until it reaches 165°F! See the proper cooking temperatures for all of your favorite holiday foods in the graphic on the right.
    More information on using a kitchen thermometer

  4. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
    For hot foods, consider using a slow cooker or keeping food on the stove or in the oven in order to keep the food at a high enough temperature while serving. For cold foods, consider using an ice bath under a bowl or keeping foods in the fridge as long as possible. If you are taking food to another location, make sure you plan to keep the food at the right temperature during travel.
    More information on the food temperature "danger zone"

  5. Put away leftovers as soon as possible.
    Leaving your leftovers sitting out for hours provides the perfect recipe for bacteria to grow in your food. As soon as everyone has eaten, get the leftovers in the fridge.
    More information on cooling and storing leftovers

Questions while cooking your turkey?

Call the USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline:
1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854)

Proper cooking temperatures