There is no doubt you’ll eat more during this festive period than any other time in the year. Unfortunately, common mistakes in cooking can lead to food poisoning putting a dampener on celebrations.
Here are a few common sense suggestions on how to avoid food poisoning this festive season.
1. Avoid cross contamination
Cross contamination is one of the main causes of food poisoning. Create two separate workstations or use separate chopping boards in your kitchen.
If you have gone for the frozen turkey option be careful when defrosting. Although it may take longer to do, only defrost in the fridge, and make sure the bird is totally defrosted.
Cooking a turkey that is not defrosted fully has previously resulted in bacteria surviving the cooking process, and causing illness.
2. Cook food at a lower temperature and for a longer time
Cooking food at a lower temperature and for a longer period will ensure that food is cooked thoroughly.
This applies to reheating food in the microwave after Christmas Day – make sure it is piping hot throughout before consuming. To reheat gravy, warm it for two minutes and stir thoroughly before continuing for another two minutes. This ensures that heat is distributed evenly.
3. Put left-overs in the fridge
Once Christmas dinner is finished, it is tempting to put your feet up in front of the television and enjoy the latest drama in Albert Square or Coronation Street, leaving the leftovers sitting out overnight. However once cooled it is important to put all leftovers in the fridge as naturally occurring bacteria in the atmosphere can cause contamination.
4. Observe use-by dates
It is easy to reach into the back of the cupboard and pull out an old tin of squirty cream or that Camembert or smoked salmon in the fridge from last weekend. Out-of-date soft cheeses can cause flu-like symptoms due to Listeria monocytogenes, which can grow at refrigeration temperatures and can be very serious to pregnant women and the elderly.
5. Be careful of pre-washed or pre-cut vegetables
Pre-washed or pre-cut vegetables from supermarkets can save valuable time in cooking the main meal of the day, but it is important to remember that the more food is handled and processed the more likely it is to attract bacteria.
It is important to thoroughly re-wash all vegetables and salads that will be eaten raw.