Some of the most memorable Michigan holiday celebrations begin with traditional family recipes used to create tasty meals and gifts of food for family and friends. The Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA) reminds consumers to give the gift of food safety this holiday season, by taking a few precautions when preparing holiday meals and treats.

“By taking a few easy precautions when preparing items like homemade eggnog, or the holiday turkey, you can help assure your family has a safe, healthy and happy season,” said Katherine Fedder, MDA’s Food & Dairy Division Director.  “Remember, food safety is in your hands.”

General Guidelines
• Start with the basics – always wash hands with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds before, during, and after handling food.
• Use separate utensils, cutting boards, and serving dishes for raw and cooked foods; and wash thoroughly with warm, soapy water before re-using.
• Never leave perishable food out of the refrigerator for more than two hours.
• Keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot.

Eggnog is a milk and egg-based beverage, sometimes made by combining milk, raw eggs, and sugar in a blender; however, MDA does not recommend this practice. Raw eggs may contain Salmonella, which may cause symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. These symptoms could be serious or life-threatening in young children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems. While adding alcohol may inhibit bacterial growth, it cannot be relied upon to kill bacteria which may already be in raw eggs.

Eggnog made with egg substitutes is safe, since these products have been pasteurized. Other acceptable alternatives include pasteurized liquid eggs in a carton and pasteurized shell eggs. Commercial eggnog is prepared with pasteurized eggs and requires no cooking. Eggnog purchased in a grocery store or prepared at home with pasteurized egg products may still cause illness if left at room temperature for several hours before being consumed; these products should be kept refrigerated.

Turkey Preparation Tips
• Pre-stuffed turkeys should not be thawed before cooking, closely follow package directions. 
• If buying a fresh turkey, be sure to purchase it only one or two days before cooking.
• After thawing a turkey, keep it refrigerated for only one to two days. For every five pounds of turkey, allow about 24 hours of thawing time in a refrigerator set at 40° F. Never defrost food on countertops.
• Using a meat thermometer, the cooked temperature of the whole turkey should reach 165° F.

For more information, visit or, call the U.S. Department of Agriculture Meat and Poultry toll-free hotline at 800-535-4555, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Food Information Line at 888-SAFE-FOOD, or call a Michigan State University Extension office.


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