Food Safety for the Holiday Season

Vermont Department of Health

  News Release: November 23, 2015


Media Contact:
Vermont Department of Health
Communication Office

Four basics: Clean, separate, cook, chillBURLINGTON  – Millions of people get sick with foodborne illness each year in the United States.

The Vermont Department of Health recommends cooking and handling food safely to prevent foodborne illness this holiday season.

Food is safely cooked when it reaches a high enough internal temperature to kill harmful bacteria that can cause foodborne illness. Refrigerate foods quickly since cold temperatures slow growth of harmful bacteria. Keep hot foods hot at 140°F or above by using chafing dishes or hot plates, and keep cold foods cold at 40°F or below by using ice.

“Keep food temperatures in mind when planning meals, cooking, and bringing food to someone’s house,” says Elisabeth Wirsing, food and lodging program chief at the Health Department. “Follow safety practices throughout the entire meal—from preparing the food to storing leftovers.”

Eat cooked food promptly and refrigerate leftovers within two hours after cooking. Refrigerate or freeze food in shallow storage containers for quicker cooling. Discard any turkey, stuffing, and gravy left out at room temperature longer than two hours.

USDA Safe, Minimum Temperatures

Foodborne illness or “food poisoning” ranges from slight discomfort to serious infections that require hospitalization. Infants and young children, pregnant women, and older adults are at greatest risk for serious complications or death.

The Health Department recommends the following to reduce the risk of foodborne illness:

For a temperature guide and more information on holiday food safety, visit:

For the complete Health Department Food Safety Guide, visit:

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