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Council urge public to avoid the unwanted gift of food poisoning this Christmas

28 November 2018

Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Environmental Health Food Team, in partnership with the Food Standards Agency, are encouraging the public to make the right choices to avoid food poisoning over the festive season.

The Season’s Eatings campaign is offering helpful safety and hygiene tips and advice for the preparation of food during the Christmas celebrations.   

New research indicates that people in Northern Ireland could be putting themselves and their families at risk of food poisoning through a lack of knowledge of the four Cs of food hygiene, chilling, cooking, cleaning and avoiding cross contamination.

Seamus Donaghy, Head of Health and Community Wellbeing at Derry City and Strabane District Council, urged people to be particularly cautious when preparing food for larger groups.

“Cooking a Christmas roast for a large gathering can be a challenge and it is vital that the turkey or other meat of the meal, is stored, defrosted and cooked correctly,” he said.

“Likewise, leftovers from Christmas need to be reheated and consumed within specific timeframes in order to avoid food poisoning.

“This is why we are supporting the Food Standards Agency in helping you to relieve some of the stress of preparing your Christmas meal and to keep your family safe during the festive period.”

Council and the Food Standards Agency are encouraging people to adhere to five top tips to keep your festive season truly the most wonderful time of the year.

1. 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.

2. Check the guidance on your turkey to ensure you have enough time to fully defrost it – it could take as much as 4 days.

3. Don’t wash raw turkey; it just splashes germs onto your hands, clothes, utensils and worktops.

4. To work out the cooking time for your turkey, check the instructions on the packaging, 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. This new meal can then be frozen, but make sure you only reheat it once.

Kathryn Baker, Head of Local Authority, Policy and Delivery at the Food Standards Agency, added: “The four Cs of food hygiene: Chilling, Cleaning, Cooking and avoiding Cross-contamination are important throughout the year, but especially at Christmas.

“In the flurry of preparing the Christmas meal, it’s important to remember to plan ahead and allow plenty of time. Remember that an average-sized turkey can take four days to fully thaw in the fridge, and it is vital to thoroughly cook a turkey so that the meat is steaming hot, there is no pink meat visible, and meat juices run clear.”

For more information visit: www.food.gov.uk/seasons-eatings or follow @foodgov #SeasonsEatings on Twitter for tips and advice throughout the festive period.