weather icon Clear

Food safety is key to avoiding foodborne illnesses over the holidays

The holiday season being upon us means that families and friends will gather to enjoy each other and likely a feast will go along with the company.

The Southern Nevada Health District encourages all to “spread good cheer and happiness this holiday season, not foodborne illnesses.”

With an abundance of cooking taking place around the holidays, food safety is the most important ingredient everyone should be adding to their holiday menus.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, outbreaks occur most often in November and December, with meat and poultry making for 92 percent of outbreaks with an identified single food source.

“In the rush of the season it can be more of a challenge to avoid food handling errors such as cross-contamination and inadequate cooking,” said Dr. Joe Iser, chief health officer of the Southern Nevada Health District.

“People are cooking more food for more people, and we want to remind everyone to take the time to practice safe food-handling techniques to ensure they and their loved ones have a healthy and happy holiday.”

Before, during and after cooking, the SNHD urges everyone to follow four steps to prevent foodborne illness from ruining the holidays:


Because illness-causing bacteria survive throughout the kitchen, it is important to keep utensils, cutting boards, surfaces, and hands clean to prevent cross-contamination.

■ Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds

■ Wash utensils and cutting boards after each use

■ Wash fruit and vegetables; do not wash poultry and meat


Separating produce from poultry and meat can prevent cross-contamination. For example, placing ready-to-eat food on a surface that held raw meat can spread illness-causing bacteria.

■ Use separate cutting boards and plates for meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, ready-to-eat food

■ Keep meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separated in the grocery cart

■ Keep meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separated in the refrigerator


■ There are appropriate temperatures that meat and poultry should reach to ensure that any illness-causing bacteria are killed. Use a food thermometer.

■ Keep hot food hot, at 140 degrees

■ Microwave thoroughly to 165 degrees


Cold temperatures can inhibit the growth of illness-causing bacteria, which can grow in about two hours in perishable foods.

■ Refrigerate perishable foods within two hours

■ Freeze food

■ Do not thaw or marinate foods on the counter

■ Toss food before bacteria grow

Additional food safety tips include:

■ Buy cold foods last

■ Ask the cashier to place raw meat, poultry, and seafood in a separate bag

■ Prepare uncooked recipes before recipes requiring raw meat to reduce cross-contamination. Store them out of the way while preparing meat dishes to ensure there is no cross-contamination after preparation

■ Keep hot food hot and cold food cold, use chafing dishes or crock pots and ice trays. Hot items should remain above 140 ˚F, and cold items should remain below 40 ˚F.

■ Always wash your hands, utensils, bowls, and other cutlery when preparing food. Use separate platters and utensils for raw and cooked meats and keep surfaces clean.

■ If ordering catering is part of your holiday plans, make sure the company has the appropriate business license and Health District permits to operate. Unpermitted food establishments have not been inspected by the Health District.

Catering companies are required to operate out of commercial kitchens that meet food safety standards and Health District regulations.

Contact reporter Mick Akers at makers@pvtimes.com. Follow @mickakers on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Supreme Court rejects California church’s challenge

Chief Justice John Roberts again was the deciding vote Friday when the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a California church’s attempt to overturn the state’s coronavirus restrictions on in-person religious services.

U.S. 95 closing for repairs in Nye, Esmeralda counties

The Nevada Department of Transportation is temporarily closing U.S. Highway 95 between the U.S. Route 6 and State Route 360 junctions from 6 a.m. June 3, through 4 p.m. June 17 in Esmeralda and Mineral counties, a closure needed for $2.43 million in federally funded emergency repairs.

Golden announces Pahrump properties will reopen June 4

Golden Entertainment, Inc., announced Friday that Pahrump Nugget Hotel & Casino, Gold Town Casino and Lakeside Casino & RV Park will reopen at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, June 4.

Administration considers resuming nuclear testing

The Trump administration has discussed whether to conduct the first U.S. nuclear test explosion since 1992 in a move that would have far-reaching consequences for relations with other nuclear powers and reverse a decades-long moratorium on such actions, the Washington Post reported Thursday.

Fire destroys several structures, vehicles

Pahrump Valley Fire and Rescue Services crews were met with explosions and red hot embers raining down upon them as they battled a destructive multi-structure fire on Tuesday evening, May 26th.

Thousands watch Nye County GOP virtual debate

The Nye County Republican Central Committee, with the participation of the Pahrump Valley Times, hosted a GOP debate last weekend for the contenders vying for the Republican vote in the 2020 primary election, with nearly three dozen candidates joining in to tackle a variety of topics pertinent to their various offices and thousands of voters watching over two days of discourse and debate.

Striving for success, commission reduces Pahrump Fall Festival vendor fees

The Pahrump Fall Festival is, hands down, the single largest community event in the valley each year but over the past few years, it has been dwindling a bit in terms of participation by vendors offering merchandise and goodies for the thousands of people who turn out on a regular basis. With this in mind, town and county officials have made the decision to revise the vendor booth fee schedule, lowering the prices in an effort to attract more vendors and make the 2020 Fall Festival a resounding success.

Pahrump’s Movies in the Park given the go-ahead

It’s been more than two months since the last community gathering was held in Pahrump and though certain restrictions are still in place regarding the number of people allowed to congregate in public or private settings, the town is now readying for the first large-scale public event since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nevada, its annual Movies in the Park.

California Lottery

No one matched all five numbers and the mega number in the Wednesday, May 27 drawing of the California Super Lotto. The next jackpot will be at least $10 million.