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Do I Have Food Poisoning? Safe Serve Tips For The Holidays

November 16, 2018

Little boy celebrating 4th of July safelyAs the end of the year approaches, it’s likely there are multiple meals and parties in your future. Carrying food from one location to another and sharing dishes with a crowd means more opportunity for bacteria to grow and cause food poisoning. Whether you’re an experienced cook, a first-time party host, or simply adding a dish to the potluck lineup, the holidays can make even the most confident chefs nervous. Follow these steps to keep your holidays food poisoning-free:

CLEAN: Wash hands and surfaces often
SEPARATE: Separate raw meats from other foods
COOK: Cook to the right temperature
CHILL: Refrigerate food promptly

Steps to follow during holiday grocery shopping:

  • Keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood away from other foods in your grocery cart.
  • Buy cold foods last.
  • Ask the cashier to place your raw meat, poultry and seafood in a separate bag.

Steps to follow during food preparation:

  • Use separate cutting boards for raw meat and ready-to-eat items like vegetables or bread.
  • Prepare uncooked recipes before recipes requiring raw meat to reduce cross-contamination. Store them out of the way while preparing meat dishes to ensure they don’t become contaminated after preparation.
  • Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of dishes to ensure they are fully cooked and safe to eat. Fresh beef, pork, veal, and lamb should be cooked to 145 ˚F with a three-minute rest time; fish should be cooked to 145 ˚F; ground beef, veal and lamb should be cooked to 160 ˚F; egg dishes should be cooked to 160 ˚F; and all poultry should be cooked to 165 ˚F.

Fool proof tips when cooking for groups:

  • Keep hot food hot and cold food cold using chafing dishes or crock pots and ice trays. Hot items should remain above 140 ˚F and cold items should remain below 40 ˚F.
  • Discard perishable foods left out for two hours or longer.

Steps to follow when cooking a holiday roast:

  • Use separate cutting boards, plates and utensils for raw roasts and cooked roasts to avoid cross-contamination.
  • Wash items such as cutting boards that have touched raw meat with warm water and soap, or place them in a dishwasher.
  • To ensure the juiciest possible roast this holiday, use a meat thermometer. Once it has reached the USDA recommended internal temperature of 145 F, the roast is safe to eat.
  • Remember all cuts of pork, beef, veal, and lamb need a three-minute rest time before cutting or consuming.

Pregnant women should be especially careful to follow cooking directions on packages since some bacteria are very harmful or deadly to unborn babies. A good safety tip to keep in mind all year, not just in the holiday season: Follow the directions on your ready-to-cook food packages to help keep yourself and your loved ones healthy.

Could it be food poisoning?

Food poisoning is very common, with the US seeing more than 3 million cases per year.Food borne illness occurs after coming in contact with contaminated or toxic food. It can be transmitted through fecal or oral routes.
Symptoms of food poisoning begin within few hours of consuming the contaminated food and include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Food poisoning can last for a few days to up to two weeks. Accurate diagnosis requires lab test or imaging. It is generally treated by oral medication or intravenous fluid administration.

Symptoms of food poisoning

  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Stool changes
  • Reactive arthritis
  • Inability to empty bowels
  • Rose spots on the skin, 2-4 millimeters in size

If you feel you are experiencing food poisoning over the holidays, know that St. Vincent Neighborhood Hospital is open 24/7 for all your medical emergency needs. Find a location near you at