5 KEYS for food safety in the holiday season during the COVID-19 pandemic

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The FINANCIAL — According to PAHO, during the holiday season, food is prepared in large quantities and quite ahead of time, which increases the risks of FBDs. This holiday season will be atypical due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to keep your family safe, apply the 5 keys to prevent FBDs following these guidelines:

1. Water and food are “safe” when they do not contain dangerous microbes (bacteria, viruses, parasites or fungi), toxic chemicals or foreign physical agents (soil, hair, insects, etc.) which are a risk for our health. A safe food is also referred to as innocuous. Safe water is that which has received a purification treatment that removes microbes and toxic chemicals, making it safe to drink or use for food preparation. Washing our hands frequently not only prevents FBDs but also COVID-19.

2. Make sure that both you and the place where food is prepared are clean. Dangerous microbes are in soil, air, water, animals and humans. These germs are transferred through our hands, wipes or soiled cloths and kitchenware, particularly cutting boards. During the season holidays, it is common to cook with our family and/or our friends.

This year, if possible, do not follow this tradition and, in case you do, wear the mask when preparing and serving food; limit the number of guests, and restrict the access to the areas where food is manipulated. Practice social distancing to prevent infections.

3. Raw food, particularly meat, chicken, fish and their juices, may contain dangerous microbes that can contaminate other raw food during preparation and storage. It is advisable to keep raw food separated from cooked food in order to prevent the transfer of microbes and to avoid cross-contamination.

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4. It is very important to cook food thoroughly in order to kill the dangerous microbes it may contain. Special attention should be paid to food such as: ground beef, rolled meat, large chunks of meat and chicken, fish, pork, eggs and products such as mayonnaise, pastry cream, etc.

5. Microbes multiply rapidly if cooked food is left at room temperature for more than two hours. Food should be either very hot or very cold since, at these temperatures, microbes cannot reproduce.

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