Food Safety and Halloween

Food safety was always a very present concern around Halloween. How many of us remember our parents checking our haul of Halloween candy to make sure that the treats our neighbors gave us were safe for consumption? I remember the disappointment of seeing that popcorn ball as well as other homemade treats being tossed in the garbage to prevent me from ingesting poison.

In fact, the history of kids receiving candy at Halloween is a fairly recent one. When the custom of trick-or-treating started in the 1930’s, children were give everything from fruit, homemade cookies, cakes, nuts, coins and toys. Smart candy manufacturers started marketing the idea of candy and Halloween in the 1950’s and by the 1970’s wrapped candy seems to be the most accepted price for Halloween trick-or-treating.

At the time of this blog posting, many of us are staring at the candy surrounding us, and wondering how we will get through it all. As a result, the Halloween season starts what many people describe as the slow descent into two months of eating things we normally would not eat and enjoying food as part of our family gatherings and holiday activities.

 Food safety and food poisoning are issues that can be acute even outside of the holiday season and our parents are not always there to check every meal we consume. So, I offer the following “food for thought”:

  • Clean – wash hands and surfaces often
  • Separate – never cross-contaminate foods
  • Cook – cook foods to the correct temperature
  • Chill – refrigerate promptly
  • Never purchase meat or poultry in packages that are leaking
  • Watch for expiration and “sell by” dates
  • Always refrigerate perishable foods within two hours
  • Thawing food in the refrigerator is the safest – it allows for slow and safe thawing
  • Use a food thermometer to properly measure internal cooking temperatures
  • Consume leftovers within four days to be safe

If you are transporting food to your relatives’ house or to a party:

  • Keep cold foods in a cooler with ice or gel packs to keep food at or below 40 degrees F.
  • Keep hot foods wrapped in towels or insulation bags and maintain a temperature of 140 degrees F or above.

Consider the following five tips when eating out; 

  1. Check for cleanliness, note the Public Health Department’s health grade and make sure that the establishment is well maintained.
  2. Be cautious about raw meat, poultry, eggs as well as seafood.
  3. Send back food if not fully cooked.
  4. Pay attention to known food allergies.
  5. Be careful with leftovers.

Generally, someone must prove three things to make a successful liability claim for food poisoning:

  1. There must be evidence that a food-borne pathogen contaminated the food.
  2. The illness was caused by eating contaminated food.
  3. The food caused physical, mental or financial damages.

An estimated one in six Americans suffer from food poisoning every year and if you’re a victim of food poisoning our office provides support to protect your rights.  Follow the tips above, and please contact our offices should you be the unfortunate victim of food poisoning.

And remember, it’s OK if you do not eat the entire haul of Halloween candy this year!

Statistics found via:

https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/safe-food-handling/basics-for-handling-food-safely/ct_index

http://www.history.com/news/hungry-history/the-haunted-history-of-halloween-candy

https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/events/Winter%20Holidays/index.html

http://www.eatright.org/resource/homefoodsafety/safety-tips/food-poisoning/5-tips-for-dining-out-safely

CategoryBlog, Food Safety
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