Top festive tips for cooking your turkey safely this Christmas

A Food Standards Scotland survey has revealed that only 45 per cent of people in Scotland follow the correct food safety behaviour of never washing raw poultry, such as the Christmas turkey.

Published 22nd Dec 2017
Updated 9 th Aug 2023

According to FSS, washing poultry is unnecessary as proper cooking kills harmful bacteria like campylobacter, and rinsing the raw meat will only splash harmful germs around the kitchen.

Campylobacter is the most common cause of food poisoning in Scotland, and the effects can range from unpleasant to very serious illness.

The majority of adults in Scotland (79 per cent) are worried about the prospect of contracting food poisoning such as campylobacter and salmonella, but there are a number of common kitchen habits that may actually be putting them and their families at risk.

Nobody wants to be ill, particularly at Christmas, so the FSS recommend following these top tips when preparing and cooking the Christmas turkey to help reduce the risk of food poisoning:

If your turkey is frozen, check it is fully defrosted before cooking

If it's not, recommended cooking times won't be long enough to cook it thoroughly meaning bacteria that cause food poisoning could survive.

Wash your hands, not your turkey

Always make sure your hands are clean when preparing food, and wash them thoroughly after handling raw meat to prevent the spread of bacteria.

Never wash your turkey or any other raw poultry because bacteria like campylobacter can splash onto worktops, dishes and other foods. Proper cooking will kill any bacteria.

Clean worktops, chopping boards, dishes and utensils

Wash them with warm soapy water after they have touched raw poultry and never use the same chopping board for raw and ready-to-eat food without washing it in between - even better, treat yourself to a separate board for raw meat.

Make sure your turkey is cooked through and the juices run clear

A perfectly prepped turkey will be steaming hot all the way through with juices that run clear.

Check the thickest part of the meat to make sure the temperature reaches at least 75°C. There should be no pink meat and the juices should run clear..

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Eat your leftovers within 48 hours or pop them in the freezer

Keep your cooked turkey refrigerated and use it within 48 hours or pop it in the freezer if there is just too much. If you are serving it up hot only reheat it once.

• Visit Food Standards Scotland‘s Turkey Cooking Guide for more advice on safely preparing, cooking and storing your Christmas turkey:

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