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Your Holiday Kitchen Companion

Whether you cook nightly or never, you're bound to spend some time in the kitchen during the holidays. And when you're cooking for your brother's toddler, Great Uncle Max, and all the rest, you don't want to serve them food that you didn't realize went bad. Make sure everything you prepare and serve this year is as safe as it is delicious with the help of Kitchen Companion: Your Safe Food Handbook, a free publication from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Federal Citizen Information Center.

When it comes to handling food safely, it all starts at the grocery store. Keeping cold food cold is important to reduce the growth of bacteria, so pick up the eggs and milk last. And don't put raw meat or poultry next to other items in your shopping cart. Prevent cross-contamination by placing them in plastic bags, if you can, and separate items in your cart.

Once you get home, Kitchen Companion shows you how to decipher the mystery of food labels, so you'll know when to use and how to properly cook things. You'll also find tips to help you safely store food in the fridge, freezer, or pantry, including a handy chart that outlines how long you can keep foods before you should pitch them.

Hams, roasts, turkeys, and foods with eggs - all get cooked during the holidays, but how often do you cook them other times of the year? Probably not enough to remember that for every 4-5 pounds of frozen turkey, you should allow 24 hours to thaw it in the fridge or that the internal temperature of your favorite beef brisket should be 145 degrees before you can safely serve it. Kitchen Companion has lots of charts with roasting times for a variety of meats and poultry, alternate ways to cook turkey, and storage information for cooked and raw eggs in a variety of forms.

Once your food is cooked, you still need to be careful. Maybe you're hosting a holiday buffet or it's your turn to bring oyster stuffing to Grandma's house. The rules about keeping hot foods hot and cold foods cold still apply, whether you're serving or transporting them. And perishable food should be left out at room temperature no longer than two hours to prevent bacteria from growing.

You'll find many other suggestions to keep party food safe at home or on the road in Kitchen Companion. There are three easy ways to order this helpful brochure:

* Send your name and address to Kitchen Companion, Pueblo, Colorado 81009.

* Place your order online.

* Call toll-free 1 (888) 8 PUEBLO. That's 1 (888) 878-3256, weekdays 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern Time, and ask for Kitchen Companion.


Posted on November 24, 2008

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