Food Poisoning Risk When Diners Go ‘Cold Turkey’

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 23rd December 2008

Turkey leftovers a risk

The UK Food Standards Agency warns that one in five UK traditional Christmas dinner lovers will risk food poisoning this year by eating old turkey leftovers.

A FSA survey looked into the eating habits of UK consumers at Christmas and showed that 23% of people in Wales were most likely to keep turkey leftovers in the fridge for up to a week, way past the recommended two-day limit. While people in Scotland and the north east of England were the quickest to use up their turkey leftovers, those in the south east of England kept theirs the longest.

Steve Wearne, Director of the Food Standards Agency in Wales said:’We all hate to waste food, but by eating week-old turkey from the fridge, you could be asking for trouble. For the very young, elderly or those with an underlying illness, it could be fatal.There are better ways of eating and storing leftover turkey which won’t expose you to festive food poisoning. Remember, if you’ve stored cooked turkey in the fridge, eat it within two days or if you want to make your turkey leftovers last longer, pop them in the freezer as soon as they’re cool.

Although we all like to push the boat out at Christmas, try not buy more turkey than you need.’The best way to avoid festive food poisoning this Christmas is to follow the 4 Cs of good food hygiene:*

Cleaning – always wash and dry your hands thoroughly before preparing food and after handling raw meat or poultry. Make sure your worktops are clean.*

Cooking – cook your turkey all the way through until it’s piping hot, the juices run clear and there’s no pink meat. Always reheat leftovers until they’re piping hot.*

Chilling – check your fridge is at the right temperature, ideally between 0-5°C to help stop germs growing. Cool your leftovers quickly (preferably in one or two hours) and put them in the fridge or freezer.*

Avoid cross-contamination – use different chopping boards and knives for raw meat and foods that are ready to eat, like salads and raw vegetables. This will help to stop germs spreading. Keep your raw turkey on the bottom shelf of the fridge, separate from other foods.If turkey poisoning is rife in cool climate Wales, the risks will be higher in Australia’s summer, so you’ve been warned!