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Holiday Food Safety Tips

No one likes getting food poisoning, but while it can mean a few days of vomiting and/or diarrhea for most people, it can be much more serious during pregnancy. Excessive vomiting and diarrhea can cause dangerous dehydration, and some of the culprit bacteria can cross the placenta and harm your baby. So take the following precautions with the food you eat this holiday season to keep you and your baby safe.

Cooking Tips

When preparing holiday meals, be sure you defrost meat in the refrigerator, not at room temperature, and cook the meat well. For turkey, a thermometer inserted between the thigh and the breast should read 180 degrees F to ensure all dangerous bacteria have been killed.

The FDA suggests the following tips to reduce the risk of foodborne illness this holiday season:

Clean – Wash your hands and any surfaces that come into contact with food often. Bacteria can be spread via cutting boards, knives, sponges, and counter tops. Use a solution of one teaspoon of bleach to one gallon of water to disinfect surfaces and sponges. Use a fresh paper towel to wipe off hands and surfaces instead of a dish towel, which can harbor and spread bacteria.

Separate – Avoid cross-contamination, especially with raw meat, poultry and seafood. Keep these foods and their juices away from other foods that do not require cooking (such as vegetables). Always store these foods on the lowest shelf in the refrigerator so their juices do not drip down onto other food.

Cook – Always cook food to a safe internal temperature. This will ensure that any harmful bacteria are killed and the meat is safe. Use a reliable food thermometer to measure the temperature and make sure you take the reading from the thickest part of the food. Click here to find out to what temperature you should cook different types of meat.

Chill – Refrigerate food immediately to prevent the growth of bacteria. Be sure your refrigerator is set to 40 degrees F and your freezer is set to 0 degrees F. Periodically check the temperature of your settings with a thermometer.

Foods to Avoid

To keep you and your baby healthy this holiday season, avoid the following foods:

Undercooked or raw eggs - Raw or lightly-cooked eggs because dangerous bacteria, such as salmonella, listeria, toxoplasma, and E. coli, may be present that can cross the placenta and harm your baby (not to mention making you very sick for several days). This includes raw cookie dough (even commercially-made); unpasteurized, homemade eggnog; and hollandaise, aioli and béarnaise sauces.

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