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Friday 22 September 2023 Dublin: 13°C
# Careful Now
'Don’t wash the turkey' and other important tips to prevent making your loved ones ill this Christmas
Safefood said for 25% of people, this will be their first time cooking Christmas dinner.

SAFEFOOD HAS ISSUED advice again this year to help people to avoid spreading bacteria or making their dinner guests ill this Christmas

Turkey can carry food poisoning bacteria, just like chicken, but proper cooking will kill that bacteria.

Safefood has reminded Christmas cooks that proper preparation of the turkey is important too, if they want to avoid spreading the bacteria around their home or onto other food.

When preparing the turkey:

  • Don’t wash it. This can spread bacteria around your kitchen through drips, drops and splashes.
  • Unpack it directly into a roasting tray before placing it straight in the oven.
  • Before and after you handle your turkey, wash your hands with warm soapy water and dry with a clean towel.

safefoodTV / YouTube

If you are stuffing the turkey, remember to:

  • Prepare the stuffing just before cooking
  • Don’t overstuff your bird – use only 10% of the weight of the bird in stuffing. For instance, a 5kg turkey should have no more than 500g of stuffing.
  • Allow extra cooking time for stuffed birds. You can use this turkey cooking calculator to find out how long.
  • Check that the stuffing is piping hot all the way through before serving.

This only applies to birds cooked in electric, fan assisted ovens. For other oven types, cook your stuffing in a separate oven-proof dish.

Safefood Safefood

When cooking the turkey, Safefood recommends you:

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees;
  • While the oven is heating, melt a tablespoon of butter in a pan;
  • Place the turkey on the roasting tray;
  • Baste the turkey with the melted butter;
  • Cover the whole turkey loosely with tin foil and place in the hot oven;
  • Baste the turkey every hour with the juices coming out of it;
  • About half an hour before the end of the cooking time, remove the foil to allow the turkey skin to brown and become crisp. If the skin is already brown, keep the foil on the turkey to keep it moist.

Once you think it is cooked, piece the thickest party of the breast meat with a clean fork or skewer. If the juices run clear, there is no pink meat and the turkey is piping hot all the way though, your bird is done.

First timers

Safefood said for 25% of people, this will be their first time cooking Christmas dinner and their research shows about 22% of Christmas cooks are nervous about the task ahead.

Over four in 10 of those cooking the dinner will wash the turkey before cooking and only half will check the colour of juices.

In 2018, more than 103,000 people visited the food safety website just between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to find Christmas cooking advice.

Chef and restaurateur JP McMahon has offered this advice to novices:

“Christmas is the best time of the year, but the pressure to make equally the best meal of the year is very high. Being prepared is the key, so if you have a clear idea of what you are doing and follow proper food hygiene practices, you’re off to a great start!

“The most important thing is that you enjoy the day, so don’t put yourself under too much pressure to cook overly complicated recipes. Plan everything out beforehand and stick to that plan.”

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