Don’t fall ill over a paltry mistake - turkey cooking advice from Ely’s environmental health officers

Cook and store your turkey safely, say environmental health officers

Cook and store your turkey safely, say environmental health officers - Credit: Archant

People who get food poisoning over Christmas often wrongly believe it has been caused by eating out when in fact it’s home cooking to blame, says a health official.

Liz Knox, environmental services manager of East Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “We often get calls over Christmas from people who say they have been poisoned from eating out but normally it can be traced back to poorly cooked food at home.

“For many, this year may be the first time they will have cooked a big turkey, for others it is an annual tradition, either way it is very important to follow simple advice.

“It is recommended that you have a fridge thermometer to check your fridge is operating at five degrees and make sure that your fridge isn’t overstocked with food.

“If it is items won’t be cool enough, encouraging bacteria to grow in food. By following simple, common sense rules you will have a bug free and hopefully smashing Christmas.“

Advice includes:

• Don’t wash your turkey. Up to 80 per cent of people significantly increase the risk of food poisoning by washing their turkeys before cooking them.

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• Make sure your turkey is cooked thoroughly. Cut into the thickest part of the bird to check none of the meat is pink and ensure the juices which run out are clear.

• Use leftovers safely. If you’ve stored cooked turkey in the fridge, eat within two days. To make your turkey leftovers last longer, put them in the freezer within one to two hours of cooking.

• Wash and dry hands thoroughly before preparing food and after handling raw meat or poultry. Make sure worktops and utensils are clean and disinfected.

• Check your fridge is at the right temperature – below 5°C – to stop germs growing. Don’t pack food too tightly as cold air needs to circulate to cool your food.

• Defrost fully. Make sure frozen turkeys are fully defrosted before cooking. It can take as long as 48-hours for a large turkey to thaw.

• Use different chopping board and knives for raw meat and foods that are ready-to-eat, like cooked meats, salads and raw vegetables, and ensure they are cleaned between each use.