To help people stay safe during the festive season, Wellingborough Council is supporting National Defrost Your Turkey Day on Monday 22 December.
The day, organised by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), prompts Christmas cooks to start thinking of the defrosting process in plenty of time. A typical large turkey can take two days to defrost.
According to the FSA, only one in four people defrost their turkey in the fridge, leading to concern that many risk getting an unwelcome gift of food poisoning this Christmas.
The council and the FSA are also offering other top tips to help people avoid getting ill, after figures showed that over the Christmas period last year more than 3,000 cases of campylobacter were confirmed in England and Wales. Campylobacter are bacteria that are commonly found on poultry and are the most common cause of food poisoning in the UK.
Amanda Wilcox, health protection manager at Wellingborough Council, said: “Incorrect thawing, preparation and cooking allows bacteria like campylobacter to spread, leaving people with a dinner that looks and tastes delicious but containing a hidden risk that can’t be seen, tasted or smelled but can ruin the new year.
“The amount of confirmed cases of food poisoning between late December to early January last Christmas shows that more care needs to be taken when dealing with turkey in the home during the festive period.
“We’re happy to support the FSA’s campaign and we wish people a safe and enjoyable Christmas.”
Kevin Hargin, Head of Foodborne Disease at the FSA, said: “We all love our turkey dinner at Christmas and this year should be no exception. It’s the little things you do that can make a real difference. So if you make sure that your turkey is defrosted safely and in good time, you can enjoy your meal happily and safely.”
Top tips include:
· When defrosting a turkey from frozen, follow the retailer’s recommended defrosting time and defrost it in the fridge. Cold temperatures slow the growth of germs on food and keep it safe and fresh.
· Cover the turkey while defrosting, leave in the packaging or put it in a container to hold any juices, and place at the bottom of the fridge to avoid cross-contamination.
· Defrost thoroughly, as otherwise the turkey may not cook evenly and harmful bacteria could survive the cooking process.
· Raw turkey should always be put in the bottom of the fridge until ready to use. Leaving on the kitchen counter at room temperature increases the risk of food poisoning.
· Don’t wash turkey or any other poultry. Cooking thoroughly will kill any bacteria present, but washing chicken can spread germs by splashing onto cooking utensils and kitchen surfaces.
· To check the turkey’s ready, make sure it’s steaming hot all the way through and cut into the thickest part to check that none of the meat is pink and the juices run clear.
· Cool leftovers, cover and place in the fridge within two hours, and eat within two days.