Cooking and eating are a big part of the holiday season, which is all the more reason to make sure to prepare your food safely for consumption. Although most people recover from food borne illness quickly, it can be severe and life-threatening to older adults, young children and pregnant women. Did you know Salmonella infections are responsible for an estimated 1.4 million illnesses each year? Here are some easy-to-follow tips to ensure your food is best prepared to keep your family healthy and safe:

  •  Clean & disinfect: Food should be prepared in the fightbaccleanest area possible. Frequently wash your hands with warm water and soap; clean surfaces with hot, soapy water; and rinse fruits and vegetables but never raw meat and poultry. If using the same area for food preparation, be sure to clean it before each new food item. If using cloth towels to prepare the area, wash them in hot water afterwards.


  • Keep it new: Never re-use a marinate from one meat to another. Never place cooked food on a plate that had raw food on it.
  • Use a thermometer: The only reliable indicator to see if a meat is done cooking is your thermometer. For turkey, the ham1USDA recommends taking your turkey’s temperature in several places, including the wing joint and thigh. Both stuffed and unstuffed turkeys should reach 165° F when a meat thermometer is placed deep in the thigh. Ham should be prepared at a temperature of no less than 155°. Check out for more cooking temperature information.
  • Keep it cool: Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours to avoid bacteria growth which tends to occur at room temperature. Never defrost foods at room temperature.

For more tips for safe food preparation, visit the CDC’s Food Safety Page. If you believe you may have a food-related illness, please visit your nearest health center, doctor or hospital. To find the nearest medical professional accepting new patients, call the Mayor’s Health Line at 617-534-5050.