With just a little over two weeks until Halloween, the Fall party season is getting going. Time for costume parties and pumpkin carving, Thanksgiving get-togethers and Christmas, Hanukah and New Year’s feasts!
Safety and health expert Debra Holtzmanoffers us these safe food tips to keep anyone from picking up some kind little bug and ruining their holiday. Holtzman is also the author of “The Safe Baby: A Do-It-Yourself Guide to Home Safety and Healthy Living” (Sentient Publications, 2009).
According to her data, almost a quarter of the American population will suffer some form of food-borne illness in any year with approximately 5,000 people dying from their illness.
Here are her 11 tips to keep your entertaining fun and safe for friends, family and even your pets.
- For baking pumpkins, keep them in a cool, dry spot until you are ready to use them. Once you have cut the shell, cover and refrigerate the pumpkin. Once you are ready to use the pumpkin, you can make soup, bake a pie or bake it like a vegetable. And don’t forget to roast those seeds – they’re healthy and make a tasty snack. (PS – don’t eat your jack o’lantern. Once you carve it, it becomes a powerhouse for bacteria. Throw it out as soon as possible after Halloween.)
- Buy pasteurized cider or juice. The pasteurization process kills bacteria. If you don’t know if your cider or juice has been pasteurized, Holtzman suggests boiling it for a minute and let it cool before serving.
- Always buy pasteurized eggs so then you can lick the spoon when you are making your batter. Eggs that are unpasteurized can contain Salmonella, one of the leading causes of food borne illness.
- If your family makes a trip to the orchard, remember to pick the apples off the tree, not the ground. If they hit the ground, they can become contaminated. Remember to wash your produce with running water before you cut it, cook it or eat it.
- If you offer platters of food at your parties, don’t let them sit out longer than 2 hours. Holtzman suggests using small platters and refilling them with fresh food often.
- Keep hot dishes at 140°F or warmer by using slow cookers, warming trays or chafing dishes. For cold dishes, nest them in trays of ice to keep them 40°F or colder, and safe.
- Don’t store custard pies at room temperature; put them in the refrigerator. Custard pies include pumpkin and lemon meringue, among others.
- Don’t bake potatoes that have sprouted or are green. Holtzman says they contain solanine which can give you gastrointestinal problems. Also, refrigerate your baked potatoes once they are no longer hot to avoid botulism.
- If you are serving anything chocolate, make sure your pet doesn’t get a hold of any of it. Chocolate can be fatal in high doses for animals. It contains theobromine, a substance similar to caffeine, which can also be toxic to pets. Baker’s chocolate is the most dangerous kind of chocolate. Other foods to avoid allowing your pets to have include garlic, avocado, grapes and raisins, macadamia nuts and sugarless chewing gum or anything containing xylitol.
- If you are serving alcoholic drinks, make sure to remove all the empty and partially empty cups as soon as you can. Spiked drinks and even the ice cubes can give a child or pet a dangerous amount of alcohol, even in very small amounts.
- Use a food thermometer to make sure your food is cooked to a safe level. To find out about any food recalls or safety alerts, check out www.Recalls.gov
About Debra Holtzman
Debra Holtzman has a law degree, an M.A. in occupational health and safety (OSHA) and is an award-winning parenting author and mom. In addition to practicing law, Debra has worked as a safety and health consultant and has inspected numerous plants and factories for hazardous working conditions and practices.
She has been featured on NBC’s Today Show, Weekend Today, Dateline, ABC News, Discovery Health Channel, and Martha Stewart Living Radio. She was named an “Everyday Hero” by Reader’s Digest and a “Woman Making a Difference” by Family Circle Magazine . Her empowering new book, The Safe Baby: A Do-it-Yourself Guide to Home Safety and Healthy Living” (Sentient Publications, 2009) provides lots of money savings tips and easy-to-implement solutions to create a safe, healthy, and green-living lifestyle for children and pets. It also shows you how to get back to the basics of childrearing.
Debra also teaches infant and toddler safety and CPR at a regional hospital and is a certified child passenger safety technician. Visit her site at www.thesafetyexpert.com. ]]>