How to avoid poisoning your family with the turkey this Christmas

Christmas turkey prepared for dinner

Christmas turkey prepared for dinner - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The Food Standards Agency has these top tips to avoid food poisoning at Christmas.

Preparing the turkey

•To prevent the spread of food poisoning germs, make sure that you wash everything that has touched your raw turkey (e.g. hands and utensils) in soap and hot water.

•Don't wash your raw turkey under the kitchen tap as this can splash germs around your kitchen.

•There should be no pink meat in the thickest parts of the turkey if it's cooked thoroughly. It should be steaming hot with juices running clear.

•You can use a cooking thermometer (which is left in the turkey while it cooks); this should be placed in the thickest part of the turkey (this is between the breast and the thigh) from the start. You'll know your turkey is cooked when the thermometer has reached a temperature of 70C for more than two minutes.

•If you're using a frozen turkey, check how long it will take to defrost safely. To do this, first of all see if there are instructions on the packaging. If there aren't any defrosting instructions, use the following times to work out roughly how long it will take to thaw your turkey.

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In a fridge at 4°C (39°F), allow around 10-12 hours per kg, but remember that not all fridges will be this temperature.

In a cool room (below 17.5°C, 64°F), allow approximately three to four hours per kg, or longer if the room is particularly cold.

Dealing with leftovers

•If you've got leftovers, you should cool them, then cover and ensure that they go in the fridge or freezer within two hours.

•If you have a lot of one type of food, splitting it into smaller portions will help it to cool quickly and means you can freeze and defrost only what you need for future dishes.

•Leftovers should be eaten or frozen within two days (one day for rice dishes).

•If you make a new meal such as curry or casserole from the leftovers, then you can also freeze this, even if you are using turkey that was originally frozen.

•Make sure that when you come to use frozen leftovers, you defrost them thoroughly in the fridge overnight or in a microwave (on the defrost setting) and then reheat until steaming hot.

•If you are having people over for buffets or parties post-Christmas, make sure you only take food out of the fridge at the time when guests are ready to eat and only as much as you think you'll use. Put food back in the fridge as soon as you can, ideally within an hour.