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Avoid the unwanted gift of food poisoning at Christmas

Published on:

01 December 2017

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With Christmas rapidly approaching and two-thirds of households opting for a turkey dinner, Enfield Council is keen to make sure your food has been properly cooked.

- Most households eat roast turkey at Christmas
- The Food Standards Agency has provided some tips on how to properly cook turkey
- Enfield Council recommends checking food hygiene ratings of restaurants before eating out
 
With Christmas rapidly approaching and an estimated two-thirds of households opting for a turkey dinner*, Enfield Council is keen to make sure the food you are eating has been properly cooked.
 
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Enfield Council has some sound advice if you are cooking your turkey at home, or if you choose to eat out over the festive period.
 
If you choose to cook your own turkey for a festive dinner, the FSA recommends:
- When Christmas food shopping, take sufficient bags with you so that you can separate out raw and ready-to-eat foods to avoid cross-contamination;
- Check the guidance on your turkey to ensure you have enough time to fully defrost it – big birds can take as much as four days to properly thaw;
- Don’t wash raw turkey; it splashes germs onto your hands, clothes, utensils and worktops;
- To work out the cooking time for your bird, check the instructions on the packaging. Check the meat is steaming hot throughout; there is no pink meat visible when you cut into the thickest part and meat juices run clear; and
- 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.
 
Enfield Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Cllr Daniel Anderson, said: “We all have our different traditions over the season, but many will choose to cook turkey for their main Christmas dinner or will order turkey when out for a festive meal. By taking some simple steps, the FSA has offered some guidance to make sure you don’t end up giving a loved one an unwanted present – food poisoning.
 
“In addition, if you are eating out, we would urge you to take a look at the restaurant’s food hygiene rating. A simple check can tell you whether a business takes its hygiene standards seriously. There are some marvellous places in which to eat in Enfield and a huge amount of choice, but make sure you select your venue wisely.”
 
These ratings, which some establishments helpfully display in their windows, are rated from 0 to 5, with 5 being the top score. The scheme is run by local authorities and applies to restaurants, pubs, cafes, takeaways, hotels, supermarkets and food shops. To find out more about the ratings scheme, go to: http://ratings.food.gov.uk/
 
The FSA has provided a useful ‘Let’s talk turkey’ guide, which offers some helpful tips on how to store, prepare and cook turkey, and safely handle leftovers to ensure loved ones are safe from food poisoning this Christmas. To view the guide, please go to: https://www.food.gov.uk/news-updates/news/2017/16773/let-s-talk-turkey
 
But remember, it’s not just under-cooked turkey that can give you food poisoning. Unwashed vegetables can carry E.Coli, buffets that have been left out for too long can result in bacterial growth on food and a cheeseboard that has been left standing can result in a listeria risk.
 
Cllr Anderson said: “We are certainly not killjoys, but by empowering people to make healthy and safe choices in their everyday lives, Enfield will have stronger, more cohesive communities. We want everyone to have a fun and joyful Christmas. However, please take these simple steps so as to enjoy your festive meal and avoid any nasty side effects.”
 
-Ends
 
*According to research conducted by OnePoll on behalf of www.britishturkey.co.uk, with a sample of 2,000 adults in October 2015

Photo, courtesy of freefoodphotos.com