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Tips for Keeping Your Holiday Guests and Pets Healthy
Debra Holtzman, J.D., M.A. -- Child Safety Expert Debra Holtzman, J.D., M.A. -- Child Safety Expert
Hollywood, FL
Monday, November 19, 2012

Debra Holtzman, J.D., M.A.
When making your list and checking it twice, don't forget about food safety during the holiday season. "While the pace is hectic, it's crucial to slow down in the kitchen and remember the importance of food safety, so that friends and family don't leave with any unwanted gifts, such as E. Coli, Salmonella, or Listeria," says National Child Safety Expert Debra Holtzman J.D., M.A, "The Safety Expert" http://thesafetyexpert.com, the best-selling author of  "The Safe Baby: A Do-It-Yourself Guide to Home Safety and Healthy Living" (Sentient Publications).

Debra Holtzman offers tips for keeping healthy and worry-free when hosting friends, family, and pets:

 1.  Always use a food thermometer to be sure foods are safely cooked. About 48 million people (1 in 6 Americans) get sick and 3,000 die each year from foodborne diseases, according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

2. Buy pasteurized juices and cider. Pasteurization is a heat process that kills harmful bacteria. If you aren't sure if a product is pasteurized, boil it for a minute and let cool before serving.

3. When preparing homemade eggnog always use pasteurized eggs. Raw eggs could be contaminated with salmonella. The store-sold eggnog in cartons is pasteurized.

4. Don't leave party platters at room temperature for over two hours, where bacteria can grow to harmful levels. Arrange food on small platters and replace them often with fresh, refrigerated platters of food. (Using a kitchen timer is a good idea because we can easily lose track of time with so much going on.)

5. Hot foods on buffet tables should be held at 140 °F or warmer. You can keep hot foods hot with chafing dishes, slow cookers and warming trays. Cold foods should be held at 40 °F or colder. Keep foods cold by nesting dishes in bowls of ice.

6.  Keep spiked holiday punch and eggnog--and their ice cubes-- out of the reach of children and pets. Alcohol affects children (and pets) more drastically than adults, so even small amounts of alcohol can be dangerous. Remove all empty and partially empty cups as soon as possible.

7.  Foil-wrapped baked potatoes should be kept hot or refrigerated to prevent botulism. Also, avoid using green or sprouted potatoes. They contain a toxin called solanine, which can cause gastrointestinal problems.

8. Keep your chocolate goodies out of reach of pets. Chocolate is toxic, and sometimes even fatal, for animals. The toxic substance which chocolate contains is called theobromine, a compound that is very similar to caffeine. Baker's chocolate (pure, unsweetened chocolate or cocoa powder) is the most dangerous.

Other food items that can be toxic to pets include caffeine products (coffee, tea), garlic, onions, grapes, raisins, avocado, macadamia nuts, and sugarless chewing gum and products containing xylitol.

9. Refrigerate custard-type pies, including homemade lemon meringue varieties and pumpkin pie. If you store these pies at room temperature, they can grow dangerous bacteria.

10. Ask guests beforehand if they or their children are allergic to any food. Also, keep out of reach of young children firm, round food, such as popcorn, nuts and candy canes because they pose a choking risk.

Lastly, remember to wash hands thoroughly before and after handling food, beverages or utensils. And keep up-to-date on all product recalls and safety alerts: visit http://www.Recalls.gov

Debra Holtzman holds a B.A. in communications from the State University of New York at Albany, an M.A. in occupational health and safety from New York University, and a J.D. from St. John's University School of Law. She has made hundreds of media appearances including ABC World News with Diane Sawyer, NBC's The Today Show and Dateline. She served as the official on-camera safety expert for the popular weekly Discovery Health series, Make Room for Baby. Debra was named an "Everyday Hero" by Readers Digest and a "Woman Making a Difference" by Family Circle Magazine.   Debra teaches infant and toddler safety and CPR at a regional hospital, and is a certified child passenger safety technician.  

Debra's best-selling book, "The Safe Baby: A Do-it-Yourself Guide to Home Safety and Healthy Living" (Sentient Publications) offers parents easy-to-implement solutions and cost saving tips to keep children and pets safe and healthy.

Visit Debra online at http://thesafetyexpert.com

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