Merry Christmas from Moyle District Council

Moyle District Council’s Environmental Health Staff wish you a Safe, Happy and Healthy Christmas.

More than one in ten of us cook Christmas dinner for more than ten people. With so much food some is often served warm when it should be chilled or too cool when it should be piping hot. Such actions can unwittingly result in an unpleasant case of food poisoning for you or your family. Studies show that 20% of food poisoning outbreaks are poultry related, with most cases occurring during December. Food poisoning is preventable. Cooking your turkey properly will mean it is safe to enjoy.

This Christmas make sure the food you serve is safe to eat by following these tips:

Prevent Contamination:

Give your fridge and freezer a good clean before you stock up for Christmas. Make more space by using up sauces and pickles stored in the fridge (watch out for ‘best before’ dates though).

Wash your hands thoroughly in hot soapy water especially before preparing or touching food, and after touching raw food, coughing, sneezing or touching pets.

Keep cuts and grazes covered with a waterproof plaster.

Clean equipment and surfaces thoroughly after preparing raw foods and before contact with other foods.

Always store cooked or ready to eat foods on a higher shelf than raw foods.

Keep pets out of the kitchen when preparing food.

Avoid preparing food for yourself or others if you are ill, especially with sickness and/or diarrhoea.

Use separate chopping boards and utensils or wash them thoroughly to avoid cross-contamination between raw meat, and any cooked or ready-to-eat foods.

Plan Carefully:

Do not make foods too far in advance.

Ensure you have enough fridge and freezer space.

Do not leave food standing around for hours in a warm room before it is eaten.

Take Care With Your Turkey:

Defrost the bird on the bottom shelf of the fridge taking care to ensure it doesn’t drip onto any other foods.

Allow at least 24 hours defrosting for every 2-2.5 kg (4-5 lbs) of weight.

The bird is fully defrosted and ready when the body is soft, the legs can be moved and there are no ice crystals inside. If you are not going to Cook it immediately, keep it in the fridge.

When cooking, as a general guide, birds under 4.5kg require 45 minutes per kg plus 20 minutes; birds weighing between 4.5kg and 6.5kg 40 minutes per kg; and birds over 6.5kg 35 minutes per kg at 180ºC, 350ºF, Gas Mark 4 (after the oven has preheated).

Temperature Control:

Always serve hot food piping hot and as soon as it is ready. If there’s a delay between heating and eating then keep the food covered and at no less than 63°C.

Keep perishable foods (meats, quiches etc) in the fridge.

Ensure food is cooked thoroughly and piping hot before serving. Be extra careful with turkeys or large joints of meat – check to make sure there are no pink bits in the centre, that the juices run clear and that they are piping hot throughout.

Cool down leftovers quickly and refrigerate within 4 hours of cooking. To speed cooling: divide into smaller portions, place in shallow containers or stand in a tray of cold water.

Avoid reheating food more than once - if you reheat leftovers make sure they’re piping hot throughout and don’t keep leftovers for more than 2 days.

Keep young children out of the kitchen while you are cooking, to avoid burns and scalds.

Further food safety information is available from the Council website or by contacting Amber Holmes, Senior Environmental Health Officer, Consumer Services on 028 2076 2225.