Holiday Food Safety Tips and Resources

November 19, 2021

As we enter the holiday season, the Portsmouth Health Department staff would like to help you avoid unwanted guests at your gathering – foodborne bacteria, like E. coli and Salmonella – that can make you and your guests sick. Foodborne bacteria can cause severe and even life-threatening illnesses. Whether you're bringing a special dish to a party, making homemade food gifts or preparing the holiday meal yourself, it's important to practice safe food handling to protect everyone from getting sick.

Clean: Keep bacteria out of your kitchen by washing your hands before, during and after you handle raw food. Make sure food preparation surfaces and utensils are clean.

Separate: Keep raw meat and poultry separate from produce and cooked foods by using different cutting boards.

Cook: Use a food thermometer to ensure your turkey is safe to eat. The recommended internal temperature must reach 165*F in three places: the thickest part of the breast, the innermost part of the thigh and the innermost part of the wing.

Chill: Your meal on the dinner table has only two hours before it becomes unsafe, and bacteria starts to multiply. Make sure you put out just enough food for your guests and place the rest in your fridge in shallow containers. Reheat leftovers to 165*F. USDA recommends using cooked turkey and other leftovers within 3 to 4 days (kept refrigerated at 40*F or less.)

The Partnership for Food Safety Education’s website is filled with tips, recipes and food safety advice, all in one location. The website also includes kid’s activities and handy shopping organizers and checklists! You can click here

Additional food safety resources (available in English and Spanish) available:

  • And the Meat and Poultry Hotline, operated by the USDA, will be staffed on Thanksgiving Day from 8:00AM – 2:00PM EST for any cooks looking for a little help or advice while preparing their meals. This service offers specialists who also speak Spanish. 1-866-MPHOTLINE (1-866-674-6854)
  • Consumers can also consult “Ask USDA” the virtual Food Safety Information Service representative 24 hours a day.
  • Winter Holiday food safety information, tips and recommendations for topics such as making homemade eggnog safely, getting the most out of your holiday roasts and avoiding food poisoning at your holiday party can be found here.

Have a food safe Holiday season!

Turkey Dinner