Avoid the unwanted gift of food poisoning this Xmas

Updated: 29 November 2018

There are an estimated one million cases of food poisoning in the UK every year, and without attention to food hygiene, this doesn’t stop during the festive season


To save your loved ones from a nasty bout of food poisoning over the holidays, follow these Food Standards Agency (FSA) tips to keep your festive season truly the most wonderful time of the year.


  • When Christmas food shopping, take sufficient bags with you so that you can separate out raw and ready-to-eat foods to avoid cross-contamination
  • Check the guidance on your turkey to ensure you have enough time to defrost it fully – it could take as much as four days!
  • Don’t wash raw turkey; it splashes germs onto your hands, clothes, utensils and worktops
  • To work out the cooking time for your bird, check the instructions on the packaging. Check that: the meat is steaming hot throughout; there is no pink meat visible when you cut into the thickest part, and meat juices run clear
  • Whether you cooked your turkey from frozen or fresh, your turkey leftovers can be used to make a new meal (such as a turkey curry). This new meal can then be frozen, but make sure you only reheat it once.

John Scott, Commercial Standards Manager at Three Rivers, said: “Cooking a Christmas roast for a large gathering can be challenging. It is vital that the turkey, or other meat of the meal, is stored, defrosted and cooked correctly. Likewise, leftovers from Christmas need to be reheated and consumed within specific timeframes to avoid food poisoning.

“Three Rivers District Council is supporting the FSA in helping you to relieve some of the stress of preparing your Christmas meal and keeping your family safe, please take care over food safety at this busy time of the year.”

Adam Hardgrave, Head of Foodborne Disease Control at the FSA said: “The four Cs of food hygiene: Chilling, Cleaning, Cooking and avoiding Cross-contamination are important throughout the year, but especially at Christmas. In the flurry of preparing the Christmas meal, it’s important to remember to plan ahead and allow plenty of time. Remember that an average-sized turkey can take four days to thaw in the fridge fully, and it is vital to thoroughly cook a turkey so that the meat is steaming hot, there is no pink meat visible, and that the meat juices run clear.”

For more information visit: www.food.gov.uk/seasons-eatings  or follow @foodgov #SeasonsEatings for tips and advice throughout the festive period.