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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 18, 2013

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 and Health Expert Debra Holtzman J.D., M.A, 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. CDC estimates that each year roughly 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases.

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, bring it to a rolling boil for at least one minute and let cool before serving.

3. When preparing homemade eggnog use pasteurized eggs. Raw eggs could be contaminated with salmonella. Store-sold eggnog in cartons is pasteurized. Even if you?re using pasteurized eggs for your eggnog, both the FDA and the USDA recommend starting with a cooked egg base for optimal safety.

4. Avoid leaving 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 and Hanukkah gelt 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 has a law degree, an M.A. in occupational health and safety, a B.A. in communications and over fifteen years experience in the child safety and health field. She teaches infant and toddler safety and CPR at a South Florida hospital and is a certified child passenger safety technician. Debra has made hundreds of media appearances including ABC World News with Diane Sawyer, NBC's The Today Show and Discovery Health Channel, and was named an "Everyday Hero" by Reader's Digest. Her award-winning 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 Holtzman's website: http://thesafetyexpert.com, Follow her on Twitter https://twitter.com/SafetyExpert_

and on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/DebraHoltzmanTheSafetyExpert

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