The festivities of the season can lighten the heart and lift the spirit – but they also can also make you sick

By taking a few simple precautions, you can reduce your exposure to the hidden risks of the holiday season.

The culprits

The eggnog. For this traditional holiday merry-maker, homemade may not be the way to go. While store-bought eggnog is pasteurized, the homemade version often contains raw eggs, which carry a risk of Salmonella Enteritidis.

Bottom line: If the eggnog is left in the punch bowl during a party, take a pass. The longer the eggs sit at room temperature, the greater the risk of infection.

The turkey. If your holiday bird is frozen, be sure to defrost it properly. (Large holiday birds can take up to four or five days to defrost in the refrigerator.) Leaving the bird on the counter or defrosting it in hot water to save time can put the raw meat in the danger zone — between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit — for quick bacterial growth. (On a happier note, for fun and festive menu ideas, see Six ways to cook a turkey.)

Bottom line: to avoid contamination from scary germs such as Campylobacter Jejuni and Salmonella, be sure to follow basic food safety rules when preparing your turkey. (Read more tips to avoid Risky eating.)

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Cynthia Ross Cravit