DoctorSolve December 2011 Healthletter Edition                                                 (If you cannot read this, click here)
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Hello again,

The holiday season is now here, and when it's the holiday season we usually make very big portions of food. You have just got to remember that you need to store them correctly. And as well when your about to eat the leftovers you need to make sure that you are reheating them properly, to be safe this holiday season.

Have any concerns, comments, or questions? Feel free to send them to: [email protected]

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Holiday Leftovers – How Should They Be Properly Stored and Reheated? How Do You Know When They Are Harmful?

man full from all the holiday food

Holiday leftovers have long been a part of the Christmas tradition; with so much food involved, there is bound to be leftovers. This article will provide some basic preparatory and storage tips for your holiday food.

First and foremost, if the food is perishable (aka meats, dairy, fish, poultry, shellfish, and cooked rice, pasta or vegetable dishes that normally require refrigeration), it should not be left at room temperature for more than two hours. Therefore, if your leftovers can not be consumed or refrigerated or frozen within the two-hour time limit, they should be discarded.

Some basic instructions on how to properly store your leftovers:

  1. Let warm food cool prior to refrigerating
  2. Leftovers should be stored at four degrees Celsius
  3. Leave an airspace around containers in the refrigerator to allow for the circulation of cold air around the food.

Leftovers should be eaten in four days once they are refrigerated. Alternatively, if you know you won’t eat them in four days, you should freeze them.

The reheating process is just as important as the cooling process. Frozen leftovers should be thawed first. Additionally, leftovers should be reheated to at least seventy four degrees Celsius – you should verify the degrees with a thermometer. You should also ensure that you are reheating your leftovers in a proper container. For example, you should only use those containers deemed “microwave friendly” if you are using a microwave.

As Brita Ball, interim director of Food Safety Network at the University of Guelph, stresses, it is impossible to tell if your leftovers are harmful, as food-borne hazards don’t give off clear signs like a colour or odor. For example, salmonella won’t cause food to spoil, but it will make you sick. On the other hand, some moulds might look off-putting, but they are perfectly safe to eat.

One of the simplest ways to stop consuming illness inducing food is to avoid stop cross-contamination. This means using different utensils to prepare raw and uncooked food and food that you are about to consume. Take simple preparation precautions, such as washing your hand thoroughly and cleaning counter-tops.

Johnathon Maitland, a British journalist, conducted a study on best before dates. He consumed spoiled food, with off-colour and mould, such as grey-minced steak and fuzzy, green bread. Yet, he did not get sick, and never even experienced an upset stomach. He concluded that best before dates are more guidelines, rather than stringent rules. With the above food preparatory recommendations in mind, and the realization that the most dangerous food pathogens are unnoticeable to the human eye and nose, enter this holiday season taking all necessary precautions while dealing with leftovers.

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Staying Healthy This Holiday Season

girl blowing her nose

The holiday season is one of the last times of the year that you want to be annoyed, slowed, or incapacitated (or worse) by common ailments that threaten to get in the way of your intended plans. This doesn’t need to happen. With a these easy tips you can avoid stepping into those common holiday pitfalls like a seasoned—no, seasonal professional.

You want this holiday season to be memorable—that is, in the good way. The last thing you want to remember in the New Year is how you spent the best days of winter stuck up in bed, running back and forth to the bathroom, or popping medicine. Be it at home, on a trip, sitting on Santa’s lap, unfortunately it only takes one simple mistake to get sick, and then all that positive holiday cheer becomes the exact opposite.

So with that said, this article will answer some the questions regarding the more common holiday ailments.

“How do I stop those pesky, usually ill-timed nosebleeds?”

Nosebleeds can happen for a variety of reasons, including cold air, hypertension (stress) and sinus infections. Using a nasal saline rinse will help to not only moisturize your nasal passage, but it will help to cleanse it, keeping the possibility for infection at a minimum.

“I usually travel during the Holidays. How can I prevent motion sickness?”

Antihistamines are a great method for reducing motion sickness. Taken before car or air travel, it will greatly improve with the effects.

“When I’m on a plane I get ear pain in my ears.”

Your ears rely on a functioning Eustachian tube that connects your ear to the back of your nose. So basically, the more your nose is congested, the worse your ears will be during the flight. An over-the-counter nasal spray is your best bet to keep the pressure in and around your head at the same level. Also, while in flight, be sure to swallow and yawn often, as those motions engage the muscles around the Eustachian tube, causing it to open which allows for the balancing of pressure.

“I don’t usually get heartburn, but I seem to always get it at the holidays.”

The most likely culprit for this is overeating. Too much pressure in the stomach can reflux acid and food up into the esophagus in the form of heartburn. Also, try not to lay down until 3 hours after you have eaten. A large turkey meal combined with the removal of the natural effects gravity (standing upright) has on pH balance on your stomach can lead to some unwanted fiery feelings within.

“Last year we had a bad turkey. How is that even possible?”

“Don’t thaw the turkey at room temperature,” Amanda Ortez, of the Grayson County Health Department responds, adding, “the proper way to thaw your turkey is at refrigerated temperatures, which is 5 degrees Celsius (41 degrees Fahrenheit.)” Warmer temperatures act as a breeding ground for bacteria which can ultimately spoil the bird.

Follow these tips and you should make it through the holidays unscathed. If not, well, at least there are presents.

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