Top tips to avoid food poisoning this Christmas

1Dec

No-one wants an uninvited guest at Christmas dinner and, irritating uncles aside, bringing Campylobacter to the table can turn your festive celebrations from joyeux noel to food poisoning hell.

Usually found in poultry, Campylobacter is the most common cause of food poisoning in the UK, with over 280,000 cases confirmed each year.

As many of us will tackle turkey for the centerpiece of our Christmas day dinner, make sure you don’t give your guests the unwanted gift of a food poisoning infection by following our top 5 turkey tips…

Top 5 Turkey Tips

1. Taking your turkey home

Simply picking up your bird in the supermarket can be your first exposure to bacteria with around 7% of all poultry packaging contaminated with campylobacter.

Think you’re safe as a veggie? Just think of how many turkeys will make their way down the conveyor belts during the busy big shop.

Additionally, the FSA have stated to advise recently that bacteria from packaging can transfer to the outer lining of your Bag for Life so make sure you use separate bags for raw meat, ready to eat food and non-food stuffs or pick up a Biomaster Antibacterial Bag for Life.

2. Storage

A full fridge is almost a given around Christmas, but make sure you don’t overload it so you can fit your fresh turkey in to keep cool before you’re ready to cook, or defrost your frozen bird safely.

As bacteria starts to grow at warmer temperatures your refrigerator should be between 0c and 5c, so if you’re unsure invest in a fridge thermometer.

Make sure you store your turkey below ready to eat food just to avoid any meat juices dripping and spreading more bacteria.

3. Defrosting

If you’re opting for a frozen bird this year, make sure you give it enough time to fully defrost before cooking as any unthawed parts might be undercooked.

For defrosting in the fridge you should allow about 8 hours per kg, while at room temperature you should aim for around 3 hours per kg.

Make sure you keep it covered on a large plate or dish to stop any juices dripping onto other food or surfaces and keep in the fridge for up to 2 days once fully defrosted.

4. Cooking

The only thing worse than an overcooked turkey is an undercooked one.  Thorough cooking kills bacteria such as Campylobacter and Salmonella, so use a Thermapen to make sure the thickest part of the meat reads 75c.

Rather than risk undercooked stuffing, it’s always best to cook this in a separate tray as it can take a lot longer for the heat to reach the inside of the turkey.

Whatever you do, don’t wash or rinse the bird beforehand.  This can spread a huge amount of bacteria around your kitchen worktops and other equipment and as it only takes a few Campylobacter cells to cause an infection it’s not worth the risk.

5. Leftovers

Once your turkey’s been carved, let any leftovers cool before covering and storing in the fridge away from any raw meat.

Be sure to get all your turkey sandwiches, curries or pies eaten within 2 days, or you can freeze the rest of the meat if you’re not likely to get to it straight away.

Finally, although a full fridge is a sign of any good Christmas, make sure it’s not overloaded.  Bacteria can start to grow at warmer temperatures so make sure the cool air can still circulate.

Follow these 5 steps and make sure you make it to the New Year without picking up a nasty bug!