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Food Safety and the Holidays: What Florida Residents Need to Know

Food plays a big role in many holiday festivities in Hollywood and across Southern Florida. If you are celebrating any holiday event this year and will be serving food, you will want to take steps to keep you and your family safe. Food-borne illnesses are a serious concern, especially for children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems.


A bout of food poisoning  can lead to stomach upset, vomiting, and other unpleasant symptoms. Some of the more serious concerns with food-borne illnesses, such as botulism, can lead to fatalities. To stay safe this year, make sure that you:

1) Shop carefully.

Check labels on food carefully, especially if anyone in your family has allergies. Always look at best-before and manufacturing dates, if possible. When buying perishables, such as meat and fish, carefully look at the food to ensure it looks and smells fresh. When buying cans, avoid cans that have swollen in size or that are dented. Never buy cans or packaged food which is open or looks tampered with in any way.

2) Set up cooking areas properly.

Create separate spaces for uncooked meats and always prepare all your ingredients before you start cooking so you can assemble food quickly without leaving it out for extended period of time. Prepare raw meat separately and do not use the same utensils or surfaces to prepare other food.

3) Wash hands and surfaces often.

Cross-contamination can happen, so always wash surfaces and your hands thoroughly after handling raw meat or eggs.

4) Check recall lists.

Set up an automatic alert so you will be informed if any foods have been recalled. Always check your pantry if you notice a food product has been recalled and remove that item promptly. If you have already eaten that item, watch for any symptoms and see your doctor if you are worried.

5) Cook foods to safe temperatures.

Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of any meat you are cooking. Err on the side of caution and cook eggs until they are no longer runny to reduce the risk of salmonella.

6) Put away leftovers promptly and consume them in reasonable time frames.

As soon as food is cool enough to put away, put it in the fridge. Bacteria can start to form on food quite quickly.

Place a label on leftovers, with a date indicating when it was made. Always eat leftovers within a few days. If you cannot, store your leftovers in the fridge. Before eating again, always reheat your leftovers well.

7)  Read recommendations before dining out.

Food-borne illness can also occur in eating establishments. If you are dining out, always read reviews and eat at restaurants which are reputable and established.

If you do have any symptoms after eating, consult a doctor. If you have suffered a severe injury or episode of food-borne illness after dining out in Hollywood or Florida, the restaurant may be liable if they failed to follow basic hygiene and safety practices. Contact Flaxman Law Group to determine whether you have a case.