Although food poisoning is a danger all year round, many studies actually show that people are particularly vulnerable to contracting food-borne illnesses during the holiday season.
“That period between Christmas and New Year, we are not only entertaining with friends, but it's also when we are most likely to have a multi-generational family event,” says Juliana Madden of the Food Safety Information Council.
“So you have everyone from grandparents to pregnant women, young children and everyone in between for a big meal. And it’s hot. Suddenly everyone is in the kitchen, the fridge is being opened all the time, there is not enough room in the fridge, so you risk leaving things out.
Combine all those factors and you have a setting ripe for food poisoning. Especially when you consider you have the most vulnerable groups, the elderly and very young, pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems joining you for a meal.”
When you add other elements into the mix – such as the likelihood of soft cheeses like Brie or perishable meats like ham being served as an appetizer before the meal – you increase the risks of someone contracting food poisoning immensely. This is especially the case for elderly people, young children, and so forth.
Preparedness is the key to making sure everyone gets through their holidays in one piece. Take extra care to make sure food is properly refrigerated. When you go shopping, consider taking a cooler bag with you to help you safely transport perishable items home. Definitely take inventory as far as your fridge beforehand to make absolutely sure that you will be able to keep everything you buy properly chilled.
Be especially careful of high-risk foods such as soft cheese, poultry, ham, salads, homemade dips, and seafood. Desserts that may contain raw egg (such as tiramisu) should also find you taking greater care to observe hygiene rules.