Happy Holidays From The ASI Family
No matter what’s on your menu, food is always a central part of holiday festivities. Whether you’re an experienced cook, a first-time party host, or bringing a dish to a potluck dinner check out these resources for ensuring that holiday buffets and mail-order food are free from the germs that cause foodborne illness.
ASI has made it easy by putting everything you need to stay safe this holiday in one place.
Raw Cookie Dough
Baking cookies is a great family activity for all ages during the holidays. However, this also means that the people most susceptible to food poisoning can come in direct contact with harmful bacteria.
According to Jennifer Quinlan, a professor in the Department of Nutrition Sciences at Drexel University in Philadelphia, “A younger person might just get sick for 24 or 48 hours and not feel good. But with older adults, it could potentially become a systemic infection; they can end up in the hospital.”
There are some easy ways to reduce the risk of food poisoning. Number one is to avoid eating raw dough.
Most people know about the dangers of eating raw dough. But most only think of the dangers of raw eggs and the risk of Salmonella.
It’s important to remember that raw flour can be just as dangerous as raw eggs. Flour is typically a raw agricultural product that hasn’t been treated to kill germs. Harmful germs can contaminate grain while it’s still in the field or during production. Bacteria are killed when food made with flour is cooked.
Tips from the FDA and CDC on baking and cooking with flour:
Do not taste or eat any raw dough or batter, or crafts made with raw flour, such as homemade play dough or holiday ornaments. Do not touch your face while handling raw flour.
- Do not let children play with raw dough. Even if they aren’t eating the dough, they may be putting their hands in their mouths after handling the dough.
- Bake or cook raw dough and batter completely before eating bakes goods.
- Follow the recipe or package directions for cooking or baking at the proper temperature and for the specified time.
- Do not use raw homemade cookie dough in ice cream. Cookie dough ice cream sold in stores contains dough that has been treated to kill harmful bacteria.
- Keep raw foods such as flour or eggs separate from ready-to-eat foods until immediately before their use.
- Because flour is a powder, it can spread easily.
- Follow label directions to refrigerate products containing raw dough or eggs until they are cooked.
- Clean up thoroughly after handling flour, eggs, or raw dough:
- Wash your hands with running water and soap after handling flour, raw eggs, or any surfaces they have touched.
- Wash bowls, utensils, countertops, and other surfaces with warm, soapy water.
Traditional eggnog is made with raw eggs, which just like the cookie dough, creates a potential risk of salmonella poisoning. While cooking can destroy disease-causing bacteria, consumers can still become ill if the eggnog is left at room temperature for more than two hours before being consumed. Safe alternatives are pasteurized eggnog beverages sold in grocery dairy cases, though these products should still be kept refrigerated.
Apple cider and other juices
Another beverage often served during the holiday season is apple cider. Apple cider and most juices available at grocery stores are pasteurized or otherwise treated to destroy harmful bacteria. However, unpasteurized or raw juice may be found in the refrigerated sections of grocery stores, or at health-food stores, cider mills or farm markets. However, these type of products should have a warning such as:
WARNING: This product has not been pasteurized and therefore, may contain harmful bacteria that can cause serious illness in children, the elderly, and persons with weakened immune systems.
If you can’t tell whether a juice has been processed to destroy harmful bacteria, either don’t use the product or boil it to kill any bacteria.
Additional holiday advice from the CDC for this holiday season
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises against traveling for the holidays or celebrating with people outside of your household. The CDC offers these guidelines for those who choose to celebrate with nonhousehold members:
• Limit the number of guests
• Set expectations for social distancing and masking requirements ahead of time
• Wear a mask indoors and outdoors
• Stay six feet apart
• Avoid shouting and singing
• Gather outdoors, weather permitting
• Open windows and doors if celebrating indoors
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces
“Bring your own food and serving utensils, so that you’re not sharing with each other and potentially getting within six feet of each other,” adds Brigette Gleason, medical officer for the CDC’s Enteric Disease Epidemiology branch. “But the safest thing would be to only celebrate the holiday with people within your own household.”