Tips for serving Christmas delicacies safely

Christmas is the time of the year for eating well. Good hygiene, an unbroken cold chain, and correct handling and storage of food are the prerequisites of safe gourmandizing also during Christmas.

Cook ham and poultry meat to at least +75 ºC

When preparing your Christmas meals, remember that raw meat may contain bacteria causing food poisoning. Always use separate utensils when handling raw meat and cooked meat.

When cooking, heat the meat to at least +75 ºC throughout. This temperature will kill foodborne pathogenic microbes. Use a meat thermometer when cooking meat.

Ham and fish should be kept cold

Foods requiring cold storage must be stored correctly to keep them safe. Christmas delicacies such as ham, fromage frais and patés have to be kept cold all the time, at below +6 ºC. The ham should be consumed within one week or preferably by the New Year.

Fresh fish, all fish products packaged in protective gas, vacuum-packaged fish, and roe should be kept in temperature of 0–3 ºC and consumed by the “use by” date. If the fish is stored in higher temperature than this, it is advisable to eat it well before the “use by” date. Use frozen and thawed roe within 24 hours.

Homemade mustard does not keep for as long as commercial mustard. Preparation hygiene and the raw materials used in the mustard affect its shelf life. Always keep homemade mustard in the fridge, where it will keep for some weeks.

Only put out at room temperature as much food as will be used at one time

Only put out at room temperature the amount of food needed. For hygiene reasons it is safer to cut for example the necessary number of slices of ham and to place them in a serving dish than to lift the whole ham onto the table to warm up.

Discard any uneaten food that has been kept warm. Do not mix old and new food, such as leftovers from traditional casseroles or the rosolli salad with fresh food.

If the hot food is not eaten directly after preparation, it has to be cooled as quickly as possible, for example in a cold water bath or outdoors under a cover, before it is put in the refrigerator.

Heat traditional casseroles to over +60 ºC

Thaw frozen casseroles in the refrigerator, so that they will keep from getting warm during thawing. Heat casserole dishes properly, to a temperature over +60 ºC. Do not heat and cool casseroles several times or mix a product that has been heated once with a fresh one.

Keeping warm food at room temperature and a slow cooling makes it possible for bacteria that cause food poisoning to multiply in the product. Rather heat the amount of casserole dishes to be eaten at one time and keep the rest in cold in the refrigerator. Do not refreeze a casserole that has already been frozen.

Page last updated 7/20/2021