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Christmas Dinner Do's & Don'ts

MIAMI (CBSMiami) - Now that the presents are opened, the next big thing on everyone's minds on Christmas Day will be the mouth-watering feast.

With family and friends coming over, some home chefs may be tempted to take a few shortcuts in favor of entertaining.

This, however, could lead to problems, according to health experts, because it's important to practice safe food handling to prevent food-borne illness.

The food-borne illness affects one in six Americans every year. Safe food handling practices are the best way to protect your loved ones and ensure everyone enjoys their holiday meal.

So how do you do that? Here are some recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

Stay Clean
*Don't prepare food for others if you have recently experienced any illness.
*Wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling food.
*Make sure your cooking area is clean: wash cutting boards, utensils, and countertops often with hot water and soap.

Prepare your meals safely
*Separate raw meats from other foods and use separate cutting boards to avoid cross-contamination.
*Use a food thermometer to ensure that foods are cooked to a safe internal temperature.
*Keep your refrigerator set below 40°F and refrigerate perishable items.
*Keep food cold during transportation to minimize bacterial growth that can make you sick.

Properly handle leftovers
*After everyone has enjoyed their meal, divide all remaining leftovers into smaller portions and store them in shallow containers in the refrigerator within two hours of the meal.
*Discard all perishable food items that have been left out of the refrigerator for longer than two hours.
*Always thaw foods properly and reheat holiday leftovers to a minimum of 165°F.

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