Skip to Accessibility Tools Skip to Content Skip to Footer

Don’t Make Foodborne Illness Your Holiday Memory

September is always National Food Safety Month, but the holiday season may be a better time to talk about food safety. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 48,000,000 Americans (yes, that’s 48 MILLION) become ill each year from foodborne illness (commonly called food “poisoning”), with 128,000 hospitalized and 3,000 deaths. Food safety is a concern for everyone, but the very young, seniors, and those with chronic disease (like diabetes) are at higher risk for serious outcomes.

Contaminated commercial products – salad greens one month and peanut butter the next – receive a lot of the press, and often involve large numbers of people over many states. But, holiday time is the perfect time for your family to start your own personal foodborne outbreak, and here’s why:

Foodborne illness usually results from a combination of the following, made more likely by preparing and serving larger-than-normal meals.

  • Separate– Cross contamination between raw foods, like poultry, and foods that are ready to eat (foods eaten raw, or foods already cooked). Disease-causing microorganisms can be transferred by knives, cutting boards, or hands, and this is made more likely with “too many cooks in the kitchen.”
  • Wash– Personal hygiene is very important to avoid contamination of food, especially thorough hand washing after toilet use. Washing also includes cleaning utensils and raw produce.
  • Refrigerate/Cook– Time and temperature control means you thaw foods correctly, cook foods to the correct temperature, and refrigerate leftovers promptly. Large holiday gatherings often accumulate too much food for the cooking and cooling capacity of a typical home kitchen.

A foodborne outbreak will make a memorable holiday, but I’m sure you’ll agree there are better ways. A metal stem thermometer is a “must have” for your food safety every day, and you can find out more about keeping this common disaster out of your home by educating yourself and your family at

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.