Christmas dinner safety advice issued

Christmas dinner presents food poisoning dangers
Christmas dinner presents food poisoning dangers

Christmas Day cooks in South Tyneside are being warned of the dangers on multi-tasking in the ktchen.

South Tyneside Council’s environmental health team is urging people to take care of themselves and their families by making sure the turkey and all the trimmings are on the

menu – and not food poisoning.

Councillor Tracey Dixon, lead member for area management and community safety, said: “The festive period can present some real challenges and cooking the Christmas dinner is among one of the more stressful tasks.

“Preparing a dinner for more people than normal can mean having to handle 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.

“The last thing people want when celebrating is to fall ill with an upset tummy. Therefore we would encourage people to use the following food safety tips to avoid food

poisoning over Christmas.”

Before Christmas:

*Plan the meals to cook, what will need to be bought and when. A downloadable festival meal planner is available from the Food Standards Agency at

*Cold temperatures slow the growth of germs so make sure the fridge is running at the correct temperature – below 5°C – and is not overcrowded.

* To prevent cross-contamination, ensure that raw turkey and other raw foods are stored separately from cooked or ready to eat food, are covered and chilled on the

bottom shelf of the fridge.

Preparing the turkey:

*Make sure frozen turkeys are defrosted for the correct length of time, in accordance with the turkey packaging instructions. For guidance visit

*To prevent the spread of food poisoning germ like campylobacter, make sure hands, utensils, work surfaces and anything else that comes into contact with raw meat is washed thoroughly with soap and hot water;

*Do not wash raw turkey under the tap as it can splash germs around the kitchen;

*Check the turkey is cooked thoroughly. There should be no pink meat in the thickest parts. It should also be steaming hot with juices running clear.

Dealing with leftovers:

*Cool and cover leftovers and ensure they go in the fridge within one to two hours.

* Splitting large portions of one type of food into smaller portions helps to cook food quicker.

* Make sure frozen leftovers are thoroughly defrosted in the fridge overnight or in a microwave (on defrost setting) and reheat until steaming hot.

Councillor Moira Smith, lead member for Health and wellbeing, said: “Even small mistakes in the kitchen can increase the risk of food poisoning.

“Washing the turkey is one of the most common mistakes that people make at Christmas. Water will not kill the germs that cause food poisoning. The germs will be killed by thoroughly cooking the turkey. By washing the turkey, germs are more likely to be spread around the kitchen."

Dr Kevin Hargin, head of foodborne disease at the Food Standards Agency, said: “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 this year isn’t remembered for all the wrong reasons.”