Life Food & Drink

Monday 21 January 2019

Almost a million turkeys will be cooked on Christmas day in Ireland - but some forget to turn the oven on

Christmas Dinner. Stock photo
Christmas Dinner. Stock photo
Geraldine Gittens

Geraldine Gittens

Almost a million turkeys will be prepared and cooked on Christmas day in Ireland.

Safefood, which issued safety advice on cooking the Christmas dinner today, says there are common pitfalls people make that can potentially poison the whole family. 

Some 6pc of Irish people have reported undercooking the turkey, according to Safefood. And 7pc have forgotten to turn on the oven.

Dr Linda Gordon, Chief Specialist Food Science at safefood said: ““Our main concern is to avoid food poisoning, and avoid a disaster on Christmas Day, it’s an important meal and an expensive meal.”

“Planning ahead is the best way to stay on top of things in the Christmas kitchen. Last year, over 80,000 people visited the safefood website between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, with the most popular searches including: how to defrost a turkey; where to store it; cooking times; whether to stuff it or not; and how to know when it’s properly cooked.”

"hatever cooking method, timings or recipes you use, Dr Gordon added that you know your turkey is properly cooked when there’s no pink meat in the thickest part of the breast and thigh, the juices run clear and the meat is piping hot throughout.

"Don’t wash the turkey, wash everything that comes into contact with it but don’t wash the turkey itself which can be counter-intuitive for people. Washing the turkey will just spread the bacteria in droplets that you can’t see, and you can get splashes on things that haven’t been cooked.”

Planning is key, Dr Gordon adds, and there’s a simple rule to follow when stuffing your turkey.

“Some years ago, Safefood did some research to see was it safe to stuff the cavity and we’ve found it’s fine in a fan-assisted oven, but if you don’t have a fan-assisted oven, the centre of the bird may not get adequately cooked so you should cook the stuffing separately.”

She added: “The advice we’re giving people is to do a little bit of planning ahead, to think about how many people you have on Christmas day and for leftovers.”

“The main thing is to plan ahead, just think it through and plan all your timings. Plan when you’re going to do your shopping, when you’re going to make space for it in your fridge, and how you’re going to store it in the fridge afterwards.”

Leftovers should be stored in the fridge once they’ve been allowed to cool down after cooking, Dr Gordon said.

“We’d advise that you slice it up to make it cool down faster and portion it up then.”

"Your fridge temperature should be five degrees or below. Above that, bacteria will start to grow in the food. It’ll be sitting in the temperature danger zone.”

“We keep hot food hot, and cold food cold to make sure it’s not in that temperature danger zone. Above fridge temperature would be ideal for bacteria to grow. So it’s worth spending a few minutes carving it up.”

Our website www.safefood.eu is stuffed with lots of useful resources including a turkey cooking-time-calculator, how-to videos, lots of tasty Christmas recipes. And for any last-minute questions on Christmas Day itself, our safefood Chefbot will also be available to answer questions through Facebook messenger @safefood.eu.”

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