Avoid the unwanted gift of food poisoning this Christmas

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There are an estimated one million cases of food poisoning in the UK every year, and without attention to food hygiene, this doesn’t stop during the festive season. To save your loved ones from a nasty bout of food poisoning over the holidays, follow these Food Standards Agency top tips from Epping Forest District Council to keep your festive season truly the most wonderful time of the year.

Top tips

  1. When Christmas food shopping, take sufficient bags to separate raw and ready-to-eat foods to avoid cross-contamination
  2. Check the guidance on your turkey to ensure you have enough time to fully defrost it – it could take as much as four days
  3. Don’t wash a raw turkey – it splashes germs onto your hands, clothes, utensils and worktops
  4. To work out the cooking time for your bird, check the instructions on the packaging Check that the meat is steaming hot throughout; there is no pink meat visible when you cut into the thickest part, and the meat juices run clear
  5. Whether you cooked your turkey from frozen or fresh, your turkey leftovers can be used to make a new meal (such as a turkey curry). This new meal can then be frozen, but make sure you only reheat it once

Coucillor Anne Grigg, Portfolio Holder for Commercial and Regulatory Services said: “Cooking a Christmas roast for a large gathering can be a challenge. It is vital that the turkey, and other meat, is stored, defrosted and cooked correctly. Likewise, leftovers from Christmas need to be reheated and eaten within specific timeframes in order to avoid food poisoning.

“This is why Epping Forest District Council is supporting the Food Standards Agency in helping to relieve some of the stress of preparing the Christmas meal and to keep your family safe during the festive period.”

Adam Hardgrave, Head of Foodborne Disease Control at the Food Standards Agency, said: “The four Cs of food hygiene – chilling, cleaning, cooking and avoiding cross-contamination are important throughout the year, but especially at Christmas.

“In the flurry of preparing the Christmas meal, it’s important to remember to plan ahead and allow plenty of time. Remember that an average-sized turkey can take four days to fully thaw in the fridge, and it is vital to thoroughly cook it so that the meat is steaming hot, there is no pink meat visible, and the meat juices run clear.”

For more information visit: www.food.gov.uk/seasons-eatings or follow @foodgov #SeasonsEatings on Twitter for tips and advice throughout the festive period.