Iceland – Christmas without foodborne infections


There is a lot of pressure on Icelanders’ kitchens during Christmas preparations in December and during the holidays. Hygiene, cooling and proper heating of food are extremely important in order to prevent guests and household members from getting foodborne illnesses and associated discomfort.

Disease-causing bacteria can enter the kitchen with meat and soil that comes with vegetables and from there into other foods on the kitchen table or in the refrigerator. They can also be obtained in food from the person handling the food and from the equipment and utensils used in the kitchen.

Noroviruses can spread rapidly at Christmas and it is important that people with symptoms of foodborne illness stay away from cooking. Regular hand washing reduces the risk of infection between persons or from contaminated food.

Keep in mind that:

  • Raw meat and its juices should not come into contact with ready-to-eat foods
  • Wash fruits and vegetables to prevent bacteria from entering ready-to-eat foods
  • Wash hands before cooking and after contact with raw meat and unwashed vegetables
  • Clean cutting boards and utensils immediately after use
  • Let’s organize the fridge well and keep it clean to prevent cross-contamination
  • We regularly change tablecloths, tea towels and hand towels

Bacteria multiply very rapidly under ideal conditions. At 37 ° C, one bacterium can multiply to 1000 in 3 hours and to 1 million in 6 hours. It is therefore important to store and handle food at a temperature that prevents the rapid growth of bacteria by limiting the time that sensitive foods, such as smoked and buried fish and cold cuts, are on the table at room temperature. The risk of bacterial growth is greatest when the temperature of the food is between 5 and 60 ° C. Adequate heat treatment kills bacteria and storage at refrigerated temperatures (0-4 ° C) limits their proliferation. If foodstuffs are to be kept warm, they should be kept at 60 ° C and when cooling heated foodstuffs, care should be taken to ensure that they reach 4 ° C in 3 hours. 

Citizens are encouraged to practice hygiene, proper handling and cooling of food in the kitchen so that foodborne illnesses can be prevented from spoiling the Christmas spirit.

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