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Thursday, December 04, 2014

Eat well and stay healthy this festive season with our food safety tips for Christmas

Enjoy your family feasts over the Christmas holidays, but make sure you and your family don’t end up with a case of food poisoning.

People often cook for more guests than usual and also tend to cook larger poultry than they are used to. However, this can lead to greater food safety risks in the home, particularly where leftover food is re-used for more than one meal.

To help reduce the risk of food borne illness over the festive period, West Lancashire Borough Council is issuing some important food safety tips.

For more information about food safety please visit food safety.

David Tilleray, who heads up the Council’s Environmental Health Service, said: “We want everyone in West Lancashire to enjoy a happy and healthy Christmas, and these safety tips should help reduce the risks. ‘Use by’ dates should always be followed and leftover food should also be stored and used safely.”

Follow the Council’s top tips to keep your Christmas free from food poisoning:

  • Check your fridge is at the right temperature – below 5°C – to stop germs from growing. 
  • Always wash and dry your hands thoroughly before preparing food and after handling raw food, coughing, sneezing or touching pets.  Make sure your worktops and utensils are clean and disinfected.
  • Avoid cross-contamination. Use different chopping board and knives for raw meat and foods that are ready-to-eat. Ensure cooked and raw foods are covered and kept on different shelves in the fridge, with raw turkey and other raw meats on the bottom shelf of the fridge.
  • Don’t wash your turkey. Washing raw turkey is unnecessary and can spread harmful bacteria onto worktops, chopping boards, utensils etc.
  • Frozen poultry must always be fully thawed before cooking, so there should be no ice crystals in the cavity of the bird. It’s best to thaw frozen poultry in a cool area, preferably in the bottom of the fridge, but this will take longer. Always put the bird in a container to catch the water, blood and juices.
  • Make sure your turkey is cooked thoroughly. Check that poultry is steaming hot all the way through. Cut into the thickest part of the bird to check that none of the meat is pink and that the juices run clear. If the juices are not clear, return the bird to the oven and continue cooking.
  • Ideally, cook stuffing separately. If you do stuff the turkey, stuff the neck end only and calculate the stuffing weight into the overall cooking time.
  • Use your leftovers safely. Any leftover cooked turkey should be stored in the fridge and eaten within two days. If you want to make your turkey leftovers last longer, put them in the freezer within one to two hours of cooking.
  • Ideally, defrost cooked food in the fridge overnight or in the microwave if you are going to cook and eat them straight away. Eat defrosted leftovers within 24 hours and do not refreeze. Make sure leftovers are not reheated more than once and that they are piping hot before serving.
  • Use your leftovers creatively. Love Food Hate Waste has some great suggestions to make the most of your leftovers. Visit them at Love Food hate waste (external link).
  • Food safety at Christmas is not just about turkeys. The risk of food poisoning from vegetables is often overlooked, because soil can sometimes carry harmful bacteria. Peel your vegetables as necessary and simple washing will help to remove bacteria from the surface of fruit and vegetables. 

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