Are dangers lurking in your holiday buffet?

Food poisoning is arguably one of the worst things you can give friends and family this holiday season.

An estimated 250,000 cases of foodborne illness occur each year in the state. The Illinois Department of Public Health offers the following safety tips for cooks preparing food for holiday parties:

1. Avoid cross-contamination by keeping raw meat and poultry, and their juices, separate from fruits, vegetables and cooked foods.

2. Never use a utensil on cooked foods that was previously used on uncooked foods, unless it is washed first with soap and water.

3. Always use a food thermometer when cooking meat and poultry to make sure it’s cooked to a safe internal temperature.

4. Refrigerate leftovers within two hours. Set your refrigerator at or below 40 degrees and the freezer at 0 degrees.

— The Associated Press