Food Hygiene Tips for Safe Festive Fare

Posted by: Press team on 22 December 2021 13:55

Residents of South Tyneside are being reminded about the importance of food safety to ensure an illness-free Christmas.

While turkey is the centrepiece of the traditional Christmas feast, it is vital that it is cooked properly as undercooked or raw turkey could cause food poisoning and have serious consequences, especially for children, those with poor health and older people.

Councillor Ernest Gibson, Lead Member for Area Management and Community Safety, said: "With more people eating at home this year, it is essential that people maintain good food hygiene this Christmas. When it comes to preparing their turkey, we would advise residents to follow the Food Standards Agency's '4Cs' of cleaning, chilling, cooking and avoiding cross-contamination.

"We would also encourage people to try and minimise waste over the Christmas period. Research shows that over 100,000 tonnes of edible poultry, 96,000 tonnes of carrots and 710,000 tonnes of potatoes are thrown away each year in the UK. However, by re-using or freezing food waste can be cut significantly."

Residents are advised to follow these festive food safety tips to avoid getting ill from food:

  • Check the guidance on the turkey to ensure there is enough time to defrost it fully - it could take as long as four days;
  • Defrost the turkey in the fridge. Always defrost the turkey in a container large enough to catch the liquid that comes out during thawing. This is to avoid cross-contamination. Use a covered dish at the bottom of the fridge so that it cannot drip onto other foods. Always wash hands thoroughly after handling any part of the raw turkey;
  • Don't wash raw turkey; it splashes germs onto hands, clothes, utensils and worktops. Water will not kill the germs that cause food poisoning. The germs will be killed by thoroughly cooking the turkey;
  • To work out the cooking time for the bird, check the instructions on the packaging. Check that the meat is steaming hot throughout, there is no pink meat visible when cutting into the thickest part and the meat juices run clear;
  • Cook your stuffing in a separate roasting tin, not inside the turkey. A stuffed turkey will take longer to cook and may not cook thoroughly if it has not reached the correct temperature throughout.
  • Whether turkey is cooked from frozen or fresh, leftovers can be used to make a new meal (such as turkey curry). This new meal can then be frozen, but only reheated once.

For further food safety information visit South Tyneside Council's website at More food hygiene tips are available from the Food Standards Agency at

Last modified: 12 January 2022 13:56