Environmental Health

Contact Us

  • Phone: 970-328-9813
    Fax: 970-328-8788

    Environmental Health
    P.O. Box 179
    500 Broadway
    Eagle, Colorado 81631-0179 


Holiday Food Safety Tips

Contact: Environmental Health, 970-328-8755

Enjoying good food is certainly a holiday tradition. By following a few very simple guidelines, you can ensure that what you eat is safe. Most food-borne illnesses are caused by improper temperature controls during thawing, cooking or re-heating food. Proper hand washing and paying close attention to cross-contamination are next in line for preventing problems. These simple tips can help make holiday parties and meals safe and enjoyable:

  • Plan enough time to thaw frozen turkey in the refrigerator. It typically takes 24 hours for every five pounds of bird. If a bit quicker thawing is needed, run cold water over the turkey in the sink changing the water every 30 minutes. It may take about 30 minutes per pound using this method. A microwave can also be used for thawing as long as you continue through with the cooking process. The following table was provided for determining the thawing time required based on weight of poultry and meat. 

4 to 12 pounds 1 to 3 days  
12 to 16 pounds 3 to 4 days
16 to 20 pounds 4 to 5 days
20 to 24 pounds  

  • Thoroughly wash hands and utensils with soap and warm water before preparing food. To be extra safe utensils, cutting boards and dishes can be sanitized using a mixture of one capful of bleach per gallon of water. Using disposable paper towels is much safer than using dish towels for drying.
  • Buy a thermometer at the grocery store. Different foods have different minimum cooking temperatures. Poultry and stuffing must be cooked thoroughly to 165 ºF; ham to 155 ºF and beef roasts or steak to 130 ºF. Recipes requiring eggs must be cooked thoroughly to 145 ºF or above. Please use pasteurized egg products if making homemade eggnog.
  • Food should only be on the table for a couple of hours, then rapidly cooled to 41 ºF using shallow pans or an ice bath using containers that allow heat to dissipate quickly. Frequent stirring will help speed up the process as well.
  • Leftovers are safest when rapidly heated to a minimum of 165 ºF using the microwave.

To learn more about food safety, please check see Environmental Health's food safety page or call us at 970-328-8755.