Christmas is the one time of the year you can guarantee almost everyone is splurging on good food.
However, it’s also the time of year when many people suffer from horrible food poisoning from ill-prepared food and by not observing some basic safety rules.
Here are some food safety tips to keep in mind for Christmas time, courtesy of the Food Safety Information Council .
Avoid keeping food in the temperature danger zone between 5oC and 60oC where food poisoning bacteria grow best.
Keep hot foods steaming hot over 60oC and keep cold foods refrigerated at or below 5 oC.
Ready to eat food should always be defrosted in the fridge or microwave, never on the bench top, unless the manufacturer recommends that you do so.
You can defrost the turkey in the fridge, or ask your butcher to defrost it in the coolroom but make sure it is completely defrosted in the centre before cooking. It’s OK to defrost a turkey on the benchtop, but you must make sure it is thoroughly cooked all the way through to make sure any bacteria are killed – use a meat thermometer to check that the temperature in the thickest part reaches 75 degrees Celsius.
Because stuffing slows down cooking and cooling, it is best cooked separately.
Before preparing food for Christmas make sure that there is enough room in the fridge to keep cold food at or less than 5oC. If there is not enough room in the fridge, remember that soft drinks and alcohol,, jams, pickles and other acidic condiments do not require refrigeration to remain safe. Drinks can be kept cold in an esky with ice.
Prepare foods as close as possible to eating time.
Use separate cutting boards and utensils for raw meats and poultry and ready to eat foods.
Cook foods properly. All rolled & stuffed roasts, poultry, sausages, mince dishes and liver need to be fully cooked. Steaks, chops and solid pieces of meat can be eaten rare.
If you cook large amounts of food in advance, divide it into smaller portions or shallow containers, cover and place in fridge or freezer. Make sure there is good air circulation around the containers.
Refrigerate leftovers immediately after the meal.
Always store perishable leftovers in the fridge and use them up within 2 to 3 days.
When reheating food ensure that it is steaming hot all the way through (at least 75oC).
Your Christmas ham will keep several weeks with proper handling by removing it from its plastic wrap, covering with clean cloth soaked in water and vinegar so it doesn’t dry out, following any instructions on the packaging and storing it in the fridge below 5 degrees Celsius. Reduced salt hams are now becoming popular but will not last as long as conventional hams so follow instructions on the packaging.
Before preparing foods and between handling raw meat or raw chicken wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water and dry thoroughly.