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Being SAFE at Christmas - Food & Cooking Safety Tips

The following was an advice sheet sent out by the Council in Winter 2014

As friends and family prepare for festive get-togethers, Rochford District Council shares food safety tips to ensure that everybody stays healthy this Christmas.

The most common errors that can lead to food poisoning are:

Not separating raw and ready to eat foods

Not washing hands between raw and ready to eat foods

Inadequate cooking

Leaving prepared food out at room temperature for too long

Some simple changes can help prevent food becoming contaminated:

Wash and clean!

Wash your hands before and after touching foods, bins, pets, etc.

Clean surfaces and chopping boards with hot soapy water or disinfectant

Wash up as you go

However…never wash raw poultry! (see below to find out why)

Fridges and freezers:

Set your fridge between 0-5 degrees

Wrap or cover all food

Store ready to eat food above raw foods

Keep high risk foods, including cold meats, quiches, rice and desserts, refrigerated until you’re ready to use them

Do not exceed ‘use by’ dates

Let’s talk turkey!

Never wash raw poultry – this could splash germs everywhere! Cooking it properly will kill any bacteria present

Defrost frozen meats and poultry thoroughly, preferably in a fridge

Be mindful that it takes as long as 12 hours per kg to defrost a turkey in a fridge, or 2 hours per kg at room temperature

Ensure turkey is cooked properly before serving, by checking that:

o It is piping hot all the way through

o There is no pink meat when you cut into the thickest part

o Clear juices run out

It's better to cook stuffing separately to ensure the turkey cooks through. Ensure you allow adequate cooking time for stuffed turkeys, check the inside temperature with a thermometer if possible.

Let leftover meat cool down as quickly as possible, then store in a fridge for up to two days, or a freezer for up to three months

Only re-heat food once, ensuring it’s piping hot


Do not use raw eggs in uncooked foods

Avoid making food too far in advance. Buffets shouldn’t be left out for more than 4 hours

Take special care with vulnerable guests such as children, pregnant and older people

Rochford District Council’s Portfolio Holder for the Environment, Cllr Keith Gordon, said: “With all the merriments and distractions at Christmastime it is easy to make mistakes, and tempting to take shortcuts, when preparing food. This can be a costly mistake if all the fun is ruined by nasty food poisoning bacteria. Before the festive season reaches its peak, I urge residents to take some time to read the tips and get as organised as possible, to ensure an enjoyable and healthy Christmas for all”.

The Campylobacter bacteria, which thrives in raw or undercooked poultry, causes more cases of food poisoning than E. coli, listeria and salmonella put together! So follow this advice, and avoid ‘playing chicken’ with your food this Christmas!

Further information can be found at:

Rochford District Council -