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Top 12 Turkey Tips from Carlisle City Council

Carlisle City Council is reminding local residents to follow some simple safety steps this Christmas when preparing their festive feast.

Many people aren’t used to cooking such large amounts so sticking to these basic rules should mean food poisoning is one less thing to worry about over Christmas.

  1. Give your fridge and freezer a good clean before you stock up for Christmas - make more space by using up unused food stored in the fridge and getting rid of anything that has passed the expiry date

  2. Don't overstock your fridge or freezer - it makes it difficult to maintain the right temperature. Always keep raw and cooked or ready- to- eat foods separate even when they are in covered containers or properly wrapped.

  3. Wash your hands frequently - especially before preparing or touching food, and after touching raw food, coughing, sneezing, using the toilet or touching pets.

  4. Frozen turkeys or other poultry must always be fully thawed in a cool clean place (preferably the fridge) before cooking. A 15lb turkey will take 24-28 hours to thaw in the fridge; allow over 2 days for a 25lb bird to defrost.

  5. There is no need to wash or rinse poultry under the tap. This can splash harmful bacteria already on the bird around the kitchen, leading to contamination of other foods or kitchen surfaces. Thorough cooking will kill any bacteria present.

  6. Use separate chopping boards and utensils or wash them thoroughly to avoid cross-contamination between raw meat, and any cooked or ready-to-eat foods.

  7. Ideally, cook your stuffing separately, but if you choose to stuff the bird, make sure you take the stuffing weight into account when calculating your cooking time.

  8. Poultry, sausages and chopped and minced meat must always be thoroughly cooked - check to make sure there are no pink bits in the middle, that the juices run clear and that they are piping hot throughout.

  9. Do not use raw eggs in food that will not be cooked - such as chocolate mousse or homemade mayonnaise – use pasteurised egg instead.

  10. Always try to serve hot food as soon as it is ready. If there is a delay between cooking and eating then keep the food covered and be sure to serve it piping hot.

  11. Do not leave leftovers lying around - but make sure that hot food cools quickly before putting it in the fridge or freezer. To speed cooling: divide into smaller portions, place in shallow containers and, if possible, stand containers in a tray of cold water.

  12. Avoid re-heating food more than once - if you reheat leftovers make sure they’re piping hot throughout and don’t keep leftovers for more than two days.

For more advice on Christmas food safety visit NHS Live Well.