Renfrewshire Council

Christmas turkey

Christmas food safety

Don't serve up food poisoning this Christmas! Follow our top ten turkey tips from the Food Standards Scotland to keep your Christmas free from food poisoning.

Don't wash your turkey

Washing raw poultry is unnecessary and can spread germs. Harmful bacteria can easily splash from raw meat and poultry onto worktops, chopping boards, dishes and utensils. Germs that cause food poisoning can also linger for days in the sink. Up to 80% of people significantly increase the risk of food poisoning by washing poultry.

Defrost fully

If you buy a frozen turkey, make sure that the turkey is fully defrosted before cooking it. It can take as long as 48 hours for a large turkey to thaw. When you start defrosting, put the turkey in a large covered dish at the bottom of the fridge. Avoid touching other foods and ensure the dish is large enough to collect any liquid, so it doesn't contaminate other foods.

Avoid cross-contamination

Use different chopping board and knives for raw meat and foods that are ready-to-eat, like cooked meats and salads, and ensure they are cleaned between each use. This will help to stop germs spreading. Keep your raw turkey and other raw meats on the bottom shelf of the fridge, separate from other foods.

Make sure your turkey is cooked thoroughly

Check your bird 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 ensure that the juices which run out are clear. Remember if it is stuffed it will need longer cooking. Use a probe thermometer if you have one, and make sure the meat reaches at least 75OC.

Use your leftovers safely

We all hate to waste food, so if you've stored cooked turkey in the fridge, eat it 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.

Defrost your leftovers thoroughly

If you have frozen your leftovers to make them last even longer, defrost them thoroughly before reheating. Defrost them 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.

Wash your hands

Always wash and dry your hands thoroughly with hot water and soap before preparing food, and after handling raw meat or poultry.

Keep it clean

Make sure your worktops and utensils are clean before preparing food, and ensure they are thoroughly washed after use with raw meat or poultry.

Be fridge friendly

Check your fridge is at the right temperature - below 5°C - to stop germs from growing. Don't pack the food too tightly as the cold air needs to circulate to cool your food. To free up fridge space you can store unopened drinks in cans and bottles outside.

Food safety at Christmas is not just about turkeys

Most people are aware of the importance of handling poultry safely, but many don't consider the risk of food poisoning from unwashed vegetables. Remember that soil can sometimes carry harmful bacteria. Washing carefully and peeling will help to remove bacteria from the surface of vegetables. Always wash fruit before eating too.

Have a very Merry Christmas!

 

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