Wellingborough Council joins food hygiene campaign to help prevent illness through cooking Christmas dinner

Wellingborough Council have provided food hygiene tips to those cooking the Christmas dinner this year
Wellingborough Council have provided food hygiene tips to those cooking the Christmas dinner this year

Wellingborough Council is supporting the Food Standards Agency (FSA) Christmas Food Hygiene Campaign in a bid to help people stay safe during the festive season.

Christmas is fast approaching, and as ever looks set to be a busy and potentially stressful time.

While 43 per cent of people feel that buying presents is by far the biggest worry at Christmas, cooking Christmas dinner comes second along with family arguments - but that’s not surprising considering that nearly a third of people will be eating Christmas dinner with more than seven guests and 45 per cent will spend over five hours preparing and cooking the festive meal.

Amanda Wilcox, health protection manager at Wellingborough Council, said: “The Christmas period can also provide challenges when it comes to avoiding food poisoning.

“Cooking 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, all while reducing unnecessary food waste.

“We’re happy to support the FSA’s campaign and we wish people a safe and enjoyable Christmas.”

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 you follow some straightforward steps to ensure Christmas this year isn’t remembered for all the wrong reasons.”

The Food Standards Agency has produced a number of tips to ensure everyone has a happy and healthy Christmas.

They are advising people to start thinking about the meals they would like to eat over Christmas, thinking about what they’ll need to buy (and when) and writing a shopping list.

Cold temperatures slow the growth of germs, so people should make sure their fridge is running at the correct temperature – below five degrees centigrade – and is not overcrowded.

To prevent cross-contamination people should ensure that they 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 using a frozen turkey, those cooking it should make sure they check how long it will take to defrost safely.

To prevent the spread of food poisoning germs like campylobacter, people should make sure that they wash everything that has touched the raw turkey (e.g. hands, utensils and work surfaces) with soap and hot water.

Those cooking are advised not to wash the raw turkey under the tap as this can splash germs around the kitchen.

They should also 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.

Any leftovers should be called, covered and ensured that they go in the fridge or freezer within one to two hours.

If there is a lot of one type of food, splitting it into smaller portions will help it to cool quicker.