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updated: 12/10/2012 10:48 AM

Put safe food handling on top of your holiday wish list

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David Hass

DUPAGE COUNTY--With holiday get-togethers keeping everyone busy this month, the DuPage County Health Department offers some food handling tips to prevent food poisoning and keep you and your guests healthy:

Keep the kitchen clean. Wash counter tops and utensils with hot, soapy water between each step in food preparation. Bacteria from raw meat and poultry can get into other foods if they touch the same surfaces or each other.

Wash hands often during food preparation and while serving. Most bacteria get into food through improper handling. Always wash your hands with soap and warm water before handling food. Bacteria can linger in towels and wash cloths used repeatedly, so make sure to wash them frequently. Also, if someone is ill, they should not prepare or serve food for others as they may spread illness through food.

Keep hot food hot and cold food cold. Cooking food thoroughly kills most bacteria that cause food poisoning. Cook meat and poultry thoroughly and use a meat thermometer to check the temperature. Keep hot food at 140F. Store and serve cold foods at or below 40F. Do not allow food to be out of the refrigerator for longer than one hour at a time or the chances of dangerous bacterial growth increase

For more information on the DuPage County Health Department, follow us on Twitter @DuPageHD or become a fan on Facebook.