Food safety at Christmas

Taking simple food hygiene steps could save a miserable Christmas being ill from food poisoning.

With around one million cases of food poisoning each year, the festive season is a flash point with lots of cooking, entertaining and leftovers. The elderly, young children and those with underlying illnesses are the most vulnerable.

Here are some easy tips to an illness free festive period including the possibility of cooking a turkey in advance to save time and stress on Christmas Day.

The Food Standards Agency has a great series of tips.

The four core elements to remember are cleaning, chilling, cooking and avoiding cross-contamination.

Remember to take enough bags to the supermarket to pack raw meat separately from other food.

Plan space in the fridge and freezer, and if there is scant room then remove items that do not require cooling, like canned beer, to prevent bacteria from developing.

Keep cooked and ready to eat food on different shelves to raw food which should be kept on the bottom shelf.

Once turkey is cooked it should be used within two days. It can be frozen but once defrosted thoroughly, ideally overnight in the fridge, it should be consumed within 24 hours. Always make sure reheated food is piping hot.

For more information, visit the NHS website. 

There could be lots of leftovers which should be left to cool at room temperature before being covered and popped in the fridge or freezer. If refrigerated, leftovers should be eaten within two days, or just one day when the dish includes rice.

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