Food Safety At Christmas
Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat! Actually, these days, it’s the turkey that’s getting fat and plumped up, ready for our tables on Christmas Day along with all the other trimmings that make our festive feasts such a sumptuous affair. As with such feasts, there are often left overs which hang around for the rest of the day, waiting to be thrown between two slices of bread for a tasty sandwich later on or perhaps saved for bubble and squeak the following day.
Whatever our eating habits over the festive season, there are always a few things we should be mindful of when preparing, cooking and eating, as the most unwanted guest in your house this year will be food poisoning.
It’s likely that in pride of place on your table will be the turkey, fresh out of the oven, golden skinned and ready for carving. What’s gone before in all the preparation and cooking will decide whether what’s on our table is safe to eat. Here are a few tips to help you stay food safe over the Christmas season.
First and foremost, before you start any food preparation, ALWAYS wash your hands.
- If it’s been frozen, make sure it is thoroughly defrosted by following the instructions on the label. Detailed guidelines on how to do this can also be found in a blog we published previously (https://catersafeconsultants.co.uk/seven-safety-tips-for-defrosting-your-turkey-this-christmas/).
- Store it in the lowest part of the refrigerator to prevent it dripping onto anything else and contaminating it.
- Don’t wash the turkey before you cook it. It could splash potentially harmful pathogenic bacteria around the kitchen surfaces and you run the risk of cross contamination.
- ALWAYS wash your hands after handling the turkey and moving onto something else
- ALWAYS wash the implements used in preparing the turkey thoroughly before using them for something else.
- Make sure you cook the turkey thoroughly so that the juices run clear and, if you have a cooking thermometer, check that the centre has reached 75˚C.
- Once you’ve finished and the bird is in the oven, wash your hands thoroughly.
- Make sure surfaces are clean before you start preparing any food on them. Use anti-bacterial spray and a clean cloth, preferably kitchen roll which you can then dispose of. Do this each time you move onto a different food item to prepare.
- Make sure you use clean implements and chopping boards. On no account use any implements or boards you have used for raw meats. ALWAYS keep raw meats separate from vegetables (e.g. the pigs in blankets).
- ALWAYS wash your hands when you’ve finished preparing one trimming and you’re moving onto the next to avoid cross contamination.
- Make sure everything is cooked thoroughly and piping hot, ready for your table.
- Cover leftovers with foil or clingfilm and leave to cool.
- Put them in the refrigerator within an hour if possible (your fridge should be set at 4-5˚C). Don’t leave them hanging about on the table or kitchen worktop as bacteria will multiply rapidly.
- If you choose to reheat the food later or on the following day rather than eating it cold, make sure it is heated through and piping hot.
- Christmas comes at a time of year when there are lots of bugs and illnesses lurking around every corner. If your guests arrive with a sniffle and a handkerchief (or worse), make sure they don’t handle or serve any food and that they keep away from the kitchen.
Enjoy the wonderful festival of Christmas without the worry of food borne illnesses. Follow these simple steps and precautions and we hope you have yourselves a merry little Christmas.