FOOD FOR THOUGHT THIS CHRISTMAS
There is a greater risk of food poisoning outbreaks around the Christmas period due to the consumption of high risk food, such as turkey and other poultry which carry food poisoning, bacteria namely salmonella and campylobacter. When a salmonella infection gets into a breeding flock it can quickly be transferred in the flesh of the bird from the farm to the dining table. Such bacteria are found not only on the surface of the bird, but also in the flesh.
Simple precautions can be taken to eliminate the risk of food poisoning:
- Frozen turkeys, because of their size, will take several hours to defrost. In the case of very large birds, over 8kgs, this can take 2-3 days. The safest place to defrost food is in the refrigerator, where thawing will take longer but the growth of harmful bacteria during the thawing process will be inhibited. Poultry should never be defrosted by immersing it in warm water since only the outside of the bird or joint of meat will be defrosted the inside would still remain frozen and will not cook properly. Keep the turkey or joint in the fridge until needed for cooking.
- Remove giblets and cook stuffing separately. Cook the bird or joint thoroughly, follow the guidance on the table provided as a guide to cooking temperature and time. If you have a roasting thermometer you should use it to confirm that the centre of the flesh has reached a minimum temperature of 70°C.
- Turkeys should ideally be carved and served upon completion of roasting. Left overs should not be re-heated until they are cut into small pieces, for use in dishes such as casseroles or curries, when temperature should be raised to boiling point.
- If the turkey is not to be carved and served immediately, place it in a cool place for no more than 1½ hours, then store it in the refrigerator until required for serving.
Follow these simple recommendations and have a safe and happy Christmas.
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