To help people stay safe during this festive season Rother and Wealden Food and Safety Team are supporting the Food Standards Agency Defrost Your Turkey Day.
Only one in four people get it right by defrosting their turkey in the fridge. The Food Standards Agency is concerned that many risk getting an unwelcome gift of food poisoning this Christmas. Incorrect thawing provides a platform for bacteria such as campylobacter to spread, leaving you with a turkey dinner that looks and tastes delicious but contains a hidden risk that can’t be seen, tasted or smelled, but can ruin your new year.
From late December 2013 to the start of January 2014 more than 3,000 cases of campylobacter were confirmed in England and Wales – an indication that more care needs to be given to the preparation, storage and consumption of turkey in the home during the festive period.
The FSA advises that when preparing your turkey from frozen you should:
- Follow the retailer’s recommended defrosting time. The size of your turkey will determine how long it needs to be defrosted for (a large 11kg turkey can take up to two days to defrost).
- Defrost your turkey in the fridge if possible or somewhere cool. Cold temperature slows the growth of germs on food and will keep it safe and fresh.
- Cover the turkey whilst defrosting, leave in the packaging or put it in a container to hold any thawing juices, and place it at the bottom of the fridge to avoid cross-contamination.
- Defrost thoroughly, as otherwise your turkey may not cook evenly and harmful bacteria could survive the cooking process.
- Raw turkey should always be put in the bottom of the fridge until ready to use. Leaving on the kitchen counter at room temperature could increase your risk of food poisoning.
What is campylobacter?
Campylobacter is the generic name for a number of species of bacteria that can cause food poisoning in people. They cause more cases of food poisoning in the UK than salmonella, E. coli and listeria combined.
Campylobacter bacteria are commonly found on poultry meat. Between 50% and 80% of cases of campylobacter food poisoning in the UK and other EU countries can be attributed to poultry sources, mostly to raw poultry meat. Campylobacter poisoning can lead to sickness including abdominal pain, diarrhoea, disability and even worse. Those most at risk are children and older people.
If you want your Christmas dinner to be remembered for the right reasons, follow the FSA’s advice on the recommended safe practices when preparing, cooking and storing turkey: Essential turkey tips.
You might also want to read: Look before you book.