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Holiday Food Safety Tips

Unpasteurized apple juice and cider – While pasteurized fruit juices are safe to drink, unpasteurized juice may contain harmful bacteria. These juices are normally found in the refrigerated sections of grocery stores, health-food stores, cider mills and farm markets. Look for the following warning label, which all unpasteurized juices must feature:

Cooking Tips

WARNING: This product has not been pasteurized and therefore, may contain harmful bacteria that can cause serious illness in children, the elderly, and persons with weakened immune systems.

Shellfish and raw seafood – You should not eat raw or partially cooked fish or shellfish such as mussels, scallops, oysters, and clams, because they may contain harmful parasites. Many oysters are treated for parasites and bacteria after they are harvested; however, they may or may not be labeled as such and the treatment doesn’t kill all of the harmful microorganisms. Although freezing kills many of the parasites commonly found in fish and shellfish, it does not kill all of them, so to be safe, stick with fully cooked seafood.

Unpasteurized soft cheeses – Unpasteurized or “raw milk” cheeses may contain listeria, which is killed during the pasteurization process. Check the label to make sure it says “made with pasteurized milk”; however, if you’re at a party and don’t have access to the label, avoid soft cheeses (such as Brie, Camembert, goat cheese, Limburger, Montrachet, Neufchâtel, Pont L’Evêque, and Mexican-style cheeses like queso fresco) and semi-soft cheeses (such as Asiago, Bel Paese, bleu, brick, Gorgonzola, Havarti, Muenster, Port Salut, Taleggio, and blue-veined cheeses like Roquefort). When in doubt, choose hard cheese you recognize like cheddar, Swiss, and Monterey Jack.

Fruitcake and alcoholic desserts – Avoid fruitcake and other desserts that have been soaked in rum or other liquor after baking. If the dessert uses liquor in the ingredients, most of the alcohol probably burned off during cooking, so it’s most likely safe to eat.

Champagne and other alcoholic beverages – Avoid beverages that may contain hidden alcohol, such as eggnog, cider, and mulled wine. Toast the holidays with an alternative beverage, such as non-alcoholic sparkling cider, or sparkling water or soda.

Although buffet carving stations are generally safe, be wary of undercooked meat and any meat that has been sitting out at room temperature for more than two hours. Be sure the meat is well-cooked and steaming hot.

From all of us at PregnancyWeekly, have a happy and safe holiday season!

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