Avoid food poisoning this Christmas

It's the time of year when we stuff ourselves full of Christmas turkey and sprouts. But it's easy to serve up food poisoning along with the roast potatoes. Here are a few tips to help you avoid a trip to hospital over the Christmas period.

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Defrost your turkey in the correct way
If you've got a frozen bird, make sure it's defrosted thoroughly before cooking. And this doesn't mean running it under the hot tap in the bath, as some of it could still be frozen in the middle and won't cook properly. Defrost it somewhere cool (ideally the bottom of the fridge) and make sure that any juice that comes out of it doesn't drip or get onto any work surfaces. Also, one of the most important things to remember is to make sure your hands are washed thoroughly using plenty of hot water and soap before and after handling poultry and other food. It can take a couple of days for a large turkey to thoroughly defrost. Check out the advice from the Food Standards Agency for the full guidelines.

Don't wash the turkey
Surprisingly, you may think it's the right thing to do, but it's not. As soon as you start washing raw meat it means bacteria can get splashed everywhere. All over your clean surfaces and chopping boards. Then you start spreading them and the little blighters stay around for days. So don't do it. Make sure you use separate chopping boards for raw meat and ready-cooked food, it will help to stop bacteria spreading. And again, WASH YOUR HANDS after handling the turkey.

Make sure it's piping hot
The turkey meat has to be cooked all the way through. To find out if it is, test the thickest part of the meat by seeing if the juices run clear. Do this by cutting into it, and watch the juices running out and check their colour.

It's fine to use bits of the turkey to keep people going on Boxing Day (turkey curry anyone?), however make sure it's put in the fridge within one and a half hours of cooking. Do not let it touch raw food or bacteria will start multiplying between them. Don't keep it too long, or you'll be poisoning your loved-ones instead of entertaining them this Christmas.

What's your favourite Christmas meal? Share your favourite recipes by leaving a comment.