Tips for a Healthy Holiday

By: Megan Johnson Email
By: Megan Johnson Email

Whether you have family visiting or if you're off to someone else's home, health and food safety experts say there are things everyone can do to help prevent the spread of germs and bacteria.

"If you put hot food and you slap that lid on, it's going to really insulate it and keep that heat in," explains registered dietitian and UNL Extension Educator Cami Wells.

Wells says using smaller containers with the right cover is key to making sure those holiday leftovers keep safe.

"If it's something like real thick foods, you really don't want to go more than a couple inches thick because it's going to take your refrigerator just that long to cool," she says.

Many Nebraskans will be cooking for crowds this week with visiting family and friends. Wells says larger quantities of food can take longer to thaw, cook, and cool, so having enough fridge and freezer space is important, as well as the right tools - like meat thermometers.

"You really don't want to rely on the garage or outdoors for extra space. For one, it's just not consistent, you may think - it's pretty cold outside, it'll be fine - but it may be sitting in the sun. You also don't want to worry about pests or pets or someone getting into that food," says Wells.

And she says all food preparation should involve lots of warm soap and water.

"If someone is sick, if they're not feeling well - you don't want that person in the kitchen, get them out of the kitchen," she says. "Hand washing is a huge key as far as keeping everybody healthy."

Even if you're not going to be helping cook this week, health department officials say good hand hygiene is important now that people are spending more time together indoors, and now that cold and flu season has begun.

"After blowing their nose or sneezing, people need to wash hands then as well, and use the sneeze or cough in the sleeve method so that we're not contaminating our hands," says Michele Bever, Executive Director of the South Heartland District Health Department.

Bever says flu hasn't peaked in Nebraska yet, so it's not too late to get a flu shot.


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