/Holiday Food Safety Tips

Holiday Food Safety Tips

December 13, 2016

LAS VEGAS – The Southern Nevada Health District encourages everyone to spread good cheer and happiness this holiday season, not foodborne illnesses. Family feasts and gatherings with friends are a significant part of many traditions, and food safety is the most important ingredient everyone should be adding to their holiday meals.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), outbreaks occur most often in November and December, and meat and poultry accounted for 92 percent of outbreaks with an identified single food source.

“In the rush of the season it can be more of a challenge to avoid food handling errors such as cross contamination and inadequate cooking,” said Dr. Joe Iser, Chief Health Officer of the Southern Nevada Health District. “People are cooking more food for more people, and we want to remind everyone to take time to practice safe food handling techniques to ensure they and their loved ones have a healthy and happy holiday.”

Follow four easy steps to prevent foodborne illness from ruining the holidays:

Because illness-causing bacteria survive throughout the kitchen, it is important to keep utensils, cutting boards, surfaces, and hands clean to prevent cross-contamination.

  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds
  • Wash utensils and cutting boards after each use
  • Wash fruit and vegetables; do not wash poultry and meat

Separating produce from poultry and meat can prevent cross contamination. For example, placing ready-to-eat food on a surface that held raw meat can spread illness-causing bacteria.

  • Use separate cutting boards and plates for meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, ready-to eat food
  • Keep meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separated in the grocery cart
  • Keep meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separated in the refrigerator


  • There are appropriate temperatures that meat and poultry should reach to ensure that any illness-causing bacteria are killed. Use a food thermometer.
  • Keep hot food hot, at 140˚F
  • Microwave thoroughly to 165 ˚F

Cold temperatures can inhibit the growth of illness-causing bacteria, which can grow in about two hours in perishable foods.

  • Refrigerate perishable foods within two hours
  • Freeze food
  • Do not thaw or marinate foods on the counter
    Toss food before bacteria grow: Food Safety Food Storage Chart

Additional food safety tips include:

  • Buy cold foods last.
  • Ask the cashier to place raw meat, poultry, and seafood in a separate bag.
  • Prepare uncooked recipes before recipes requiring raw meat to reduce cross-contamination. Store them out of the way while preparing meat dishes to ensure there is no cross contamination after preparation.
  • Keep hot food hot and cold food cold, use chafing dishes or crock pots and ice trays. Hot items should remain above 140 ˚F, and cold items should remain below 40 ˚F.

When preparing food always wash your hands, utensils, bowls, and other cutlery. Use separate platters and utensils for raw and cooked meats and keep surfaces clean. Visit Foodsafety.gov for additional tips, charts, and information.

If holiday plans including catering events, check to ensure the company has the appropriate business license and Health District permits to operate. Unpermitted food establishments have not been inspected by the Southern Nevada Health District. Catering companies must operate out of commercial kitchens that meet food safety standards and Health District regulations.

The most important holiday advice of all – Enjoy!



The Southern Nevada Health District serves as the local public health authority for Clark County, Boulder City, Henderson, Las Vegas, Mesquite and North Las Vegas. The agency safeguards the public health of the community’s residents and visitors through innovative programs, regulations, and initiatives focused on protecting and promoting their health and well-being. More information about the Health District, its programs, services, and the regulatory oversight it provides is available at www.SNHD.info.