Every year about 70,000 people in England and Wales suffer from food poisoning and end up seeking medical advice. The true figure however, according to the Food Standards Agency, could be as high as 3.5 million, this number will include all those who do not go to their doctor.
Whatever the statistics, food poisoning for most people is a very unpleasant, but thankfully short-lived illness. But it can ruin the festive fun.
Christmas is one of those times of year when there is more food about the place than any other – so there is lots of competition for that valuable fridge space. Here are some top tips from the Council’s Environmental Health experts to help you and your family stay safe.
All the evidence suggests that most people (58% of us) buy a fresh turkey, but if you are one of the 28% who purchase a frozen one, then make sure it is properly thawed out, right through to the centre, before cooking starts.
If you are thawing out your turkey make sure you leave enough time before you need to start cooking it, better your family and guests have to wait a little longer than take risks with a partly thawed bird. If you remove the neck and giblets it will speed up the thawing process. Make sure you put the bird in a dish large enough to catch any drips as the ice melts.
Cook the turkey thoroughly so that the meat is piping hot all the way through or if you pierce the turkey the juices that emerge should be clear. Better still invest in a cooking thermometer and when placed in the thickest part of the bird it should reach over 75oC.
Store all ready to eat foods in the refrigerator – even if this means you have to remove beer, wine and soft drinks – these can be stored in other cold places like the garage.
Separate raw and ready to eat foods in the refrigerator.
Check the temperature of your refrigerator regularly – it should be running at about 1oC – 4oC.
Remove left over turkey from the bones. It will take up a lot less space in your fridge and let you fit other foods in much easier.
Use up left over cooked meats promptly, within 4-5-days. Don’t let them hang around in your fridge for days and days when they might go off. Always keep them covered.
Even food kept in the refrigerator will not last forever so eat foods by their ‘use-by’ date.
Never use the same chopping board, knives or any other piece of equipment for raw meat and ready-to-eat foods without washing it thoroughly first in hot soapy water. Better still have a separate chopping board for raw meat.
Keep your kitchen and work surfaces clean.
Lastly wash your hands regularly in warm soapy water after touching raw meat and before touching ready to eat foods like cooked meats.
Following these simple and common-sense rules should avoid you and your family getting food poisoning this Christmas.
If you would like more information on food safety this Christmas then visit the Food Standards Agency website.
Please have a very happy, healthy and safe Christmas and New Year.
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