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Tips for a healthy Christmas dinner

Press Release   •   Dec 16, 2015 10:18 GMT

Food safety officers have put together a handy list of tips to help families have a trouble-free Christmas dinner.

They say that many find it a real challenge to cook for more people than usual over the festive period, which can pose a risk of food poisoning.

Steve Hoyle, food safety manager at Bury Council, said: “It’s important to know the different defrosting and cooking times for food, making sure that large amounts of food are stored safely, and ensuring that any leftovers are still safe to eat, all while reducing unnecessary food waste.”

Dr Kevin Hargin, head of foodborne disease at the Food Standards Agency (FSA), commented: “If you’ve got family over for Christmas, there’s a lot to think about – from present shopping to where everyone’s going to sleep. In that long list of things to consider, it’s very important that food safety isn’t forgotten about. Planning is key, so make sure you follow some straightforward steps to ensure Christmas this year isn’t remembered for all the wrong reasons.”

The FSA has produced the following tips to ensure everyone has a happy and healthy Christmas:

  • Plan what you’re going to eat, and make a shopping list
  • Make sure yourfridge is running at the correct temperature - below 5°C - and is not overcrowded.
  • To prevent cross-contamination, ensure that you store raw turkey (and other raw foods) separately from cooked or ready to eat food, covered and chilled on the bottom shelf of the fridge.
  • If you are using a frozen turkey, check how long it will take to defrost safely.
  • To prevent the spread of food poisoning, wash everything that has touched your raw turkey (e.g. hands, utensils and work surfaces) with soap and hot water. Don’t wash your raw turkey under the tap as this can splash germs around your kitchen.
  • Check the turkey is cooked thoroughly - there should be no pink meat in the thickest parts and it should be steaming hot with juices running clear.
  • Leftovers - cool them, cover and put them in the fridge or freezer within 1-2 hours. Eat fridge leftovers within two days (one day for rice dishes) and properly defrost frozen leftovers in the fridge overnight or in a microwave (on defrost setting) and then reheat until piping hot.

For a complete list of Christmas dinner tips, go to


Press release issued: 16 December 2015.

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