Most people are aware of the hazards of excessive food and drink during the winter holidays, but few worry about a lesser-known risk of year-end celebrations: foodborne illness, better known as food poisoning. Every year, 48 million Americans develop food poisoning. Festive buffets and dinners offer more opportunities for contamination than most meals, but some simple precautions can reduce the risk, reports the Harvard Women's Health Watch.
Most bacteria on fruits and vegetables can be washed off, but only thorough cooking destroys most of those on meat, fish, and poultry. Keep in mind that bacteria thrive in the "danger zone" — temperatures between 40° F and 140° F. Leaving raw meat or poultry in the danger zone for more than two hours may produce illness-causing toxins that aren't destroyed by cooking.
Take special care with the following holiday foods, beverages, and traditions:
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