Have fun, not food poisoning, this Christmas

11 December 2012

Released on 07 December 2012

Food poisoning isn't on anyone's Christmas list, so make sure you only give people what they want this year by following some top tips from South Cambridgeshire District Council's food safety experts.

General tips:

  • check fridge temperature regularly - fridges should be kept below five degrees as this stops food poisoning bugs multiplying
  • don't overfill your fridge - it stops the cold air circulating
  • put raw meat and poultry at the bottom of the fridge in a deep dish to catch any juices - if you put them on higher shelves, any drips can contaminate other food
  • don't rely on your nose - open food shouldn't be kept any longer than three days
  • always stick to 'use by' dates - they are different to 'best before' dates and you could be putting your health at risk if you ignore them
  • leftover food should be cooled, wrapped and stored in the fridge or freezer as soon as possible. Leftovers kept in the fridge should be eaten within two days.

And when it comes to the Christmas turkey, follow these tips for a safe festive feast:

  • if you buy a frozen bird, make sure it is fully defrosted before you cook it - in a fridge allow 10 to 12 hours defrosting per kg, in a cold room allow three to four hours per kg and at room temperature allow around two hours per kg
  • remove giblets as soon as you can to help speed up defrosting
  • put the bird in a deep dish to hold thawing liquids - these should be poured away without splashing worktops or cloths as it can spread bacteria
  • don't wash your turkey - this may spread bacteria around, which would otherwise be killed off during cooking
  • cook stuffing separately rather than inside the bird
  • work out cooking time in advance by asking your butcher or checking retailer's instructions on the packaging. If there aren't any, preheat your oven to 180ºC (350ºF, Gas Mark 4) and:
  • allow 45 minutes per kg plus 20 minutes for a turkey under 4.5kg.
  • allow 40 minutes per kg for a turkey that's between 4.5kg and 6.5kg.
  • allow 35 minutes per kg for a turkey of more than 6.5kg
  • check that the meat is steaming hot all the way through - there should be no pinkness to the meat and juices should run clear

Cllr Sue Ellington, South Cambridgeshire District Council's cabinet member for environmental health, said:

"Christmas is a time for sharing good food and cheer with family and friends, but it's also a time when food poisoning can strike if food isn't cooked or stored properly. Follow our top tips and hopefully you'll have a food poisoning-free festive season."