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Council delivers timely ‘Season’s Eatings’ message

6 Dec 2018
Belfast City Council is taking part in a Northern Ireland-wide campaign to help those in charge of cooking duties to avoid the unwanted gift of food poisoning this Christmas.

There are an estimated one million cases of food poisoning in the United Kingdom every year – and, without attention to basic food hygiene precautions, this doesn’t stop during the festive season.

To save your loved ones from a nasty bout of food poisoning over the holidays, Belfast City Council is urging cooks to follow some simple tips from the Food Standards Agency 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 four 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 bird, 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 (such as a turkey curry). This new meal can then be frozen, but make sure you only reheat it once.

Councillor Kate Nicholl, Chair of Belfast City Council’s People and Communities Committee, commented:

“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. 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.”

Kathryn Baker, Head of Local Authority, Policy and Delivery at the Food Standards Agency, said: “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 that the 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.
A Christmas turkey