Christmas is a great time to indulge in plenty of food and perhaps even a tipple to wash it down with, but statistically it also seems to be a great time to pick up a food-borne infection.
If you have the joy of manning the kitchen this year then some simple tips surrounding the 3 C’s of Christmas cooking can help prevent you and your guests being infected with more than just Christmas cheer.
Ensuring food is cooked properly
The same rules apply to cooking meat at Christmas as do for the rest of the year.
• Cook the meat until the juices run clear
• Ensure that the centre of poultry reaches 70C for at least 2 minutes
• Reheat any meats to a piping hot temperature and hold it there for at least 5 minutes
• Using a good meat thermometer can help ensure that the meat isn’t over or under cooked
Too many cooks…
While it’s great to be offered help in the kitchen, too many people cooking can cause more problems than you might think – something as simple as mixing up raw meat and vegetable chopping boards can jeopardise the whole dinner.
If you do have a kitchen helper then it may be helpful to set up a ‘raw meat station’ to keep the meat and equipment separate from the rest of the food.
The sheer amount of food and leftovers can make it necessary for you to prioritise with your cold storage space. Riskier foods like meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products should be given priority in the fridge, whether they’re raw or are leftover. Leftover foods kept in a fridge should be disposed of after 2-3 days.
Planning ahead with your fridge can help you organise properly on the day and luckily the weather at this time of year allow you to keep bulky sealed items such as drinks chilled outside.
Give yourself an early gift this Christmas with a fridge thermometer. If your fridge is often bursting at the seams at Christmas then this will affect the performance and temperature of your appliance. Adding an independent thermometer can help you keep an eye on the temperature and ensure that it doesn’t go over 5C.
Mind those mucky hands!
Washing your hands properly and at the right times will go a long way:
Always wash your hands before you handle any food
Always wash your hands after washing any uncooked vegetables, meats or even their packaging – particularly meat or poultry.
Prevention starts with your shop.
Food poisoning bugs can be found on raw vegetables and even on the exterior packaging of poultry. Take care when packing your bags at the checkout and use your Biomaster bag for life.
Keep surfaces, cloths, dishes and utensils clean!
Preparing ready to eat foods with clean hands but on contaminated surfaces, dishes or with contaminated utensils will result in food poisoning. Use a good surface cleaning spray and make sure that cloths are disinfected regularly.
Don’t get distracted!
Christmas is a time of infinite distractions, whether it’s your phone ringing or family arriving at the door, remember that your hands may well be harbouring nasty bacteria. Call them back or make them wait, just ensure that your hands are washed and rinsed before potentially spreading contamination.
This same advice applies to taps, handles and drawers – disinfect anything you may have contaminated to ensure that someone else doesn’t unknowingly pick up the bugs that were left behind.
Of course most importantly of all you should enjoy the experience! Have a very Merry Christmas!