The Christmas holidays are a great period for family feasts, with many memories created in the kitchen.
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 its ‘Top Ten Turkey Tips’ in accordance with advice from the Food Standards Agency.
David Tilleray, who heads up the Council’s Environmental Health Service, said: “Given the larger amounts of food often prepared at Christmas, it is important to plan festive meals to ensure food is handled and cooked properly. ‘Use by’ dates should always be followed and leftover food should also be stored and used safely.”
Follow the Council’s Top Ten Turkey Tips from the Food Standards Agency to keep your Christmas free from food poisoning.
1. Don’t wash your turkey. Washing raw turkey is unnecessary and can spread harmful bacteria onto worktops, chopping boards, utensils etc.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. Defrost your leftovers thoroughly. 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.
5. Use your leftovers creatively. Love Food Hate Waste (external link) has some great suggestions to make the most of your leftovers.
6. Keep it clean. Always wash and dry your hands thoroughly before preparing food and after handling raw meat or poultry. Make sure your worktops and utensils are clean and disinfected.
7. Be fridge friendly. Check your fridge is at the right temperature – below 5°C – to stop germs from growing.
8. Defrost fully. If you buy a frozen turkey, make sure that it is fully defrosted before cooking. It can take as long as 48-hours for a large turkey to thaw.
9. Avoid cross-contamination. Use different chopping board and knives for raw meat and foods that are ready-to-eat. Keep raw turkey and other raw meats on the bottom shelf of the fridge, separate from other foods.
10. 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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