5 December 2017

Talking turkey

With turkey a favourite for many people’s Christmas dinner, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) is offering tips on how to prepare it safely at home.

From buying your bird through to storing leftovers, there are a number of food hygiene tips you can follow to make sure your turkey doesn’t become a drama.

  1. When food shopping for Christmas, take enough bags so that you can separate raw and ready-to-eat foods to avoid cross-contamination.
  2. Check the guidance on your turkey to make sure you have enough time to fully defrost it – it can take as much as four days!
  3. Don’t wash raw turkey - it just splashes germs onto your hands, clothes, utensils and worktops.
  4. Follow the instructions on the packaging to work out the cooking time for your bird. Check that the meat is steaming hot throughout, there is no pink meat visible when you cut into the thickest part, and 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.

Dr Kevin Hargin, Head, Foodborne Disease Control at the FSA, said: “Every year, there are an estimated one million cases of food poisoning in the UK. The easiest way to protect your family this Christmas is to ensure you store and cook food safely.

“We have put together the ‘Let’s talk turkey’ guide, which offers tips around chilling, cleaning, cooking and avoiding cross-contamination, while also explaining some of the science behind our advice.”

Councillor Gill Mitchell, chair of the Environment, Transport and Sustainability committee said: “Cooking for a crowd can be stressful at Christmas! From having to plan various defrosting and cooking times to making sure all the food is stored safely, it can all get very busy. Food poisoning from raw and undercooked turkey can have serious consequences, especially for children, people with existing health conditions and older people. Please do follow the Food Standards Agency advice to make sure food poisoning doesn’t ruin your Christmas.”

For more food safety information this Christmas, visit www.food.gov.uk/letstalkturkey or follow @foodgov #LetsTalkTurkey on Twitter for tips and advice throughout the festive period.