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Don’t be a turkey with Food Safety this Christmas 12 December 2006

In its annual campaign, the Department of Local Government and the Environment is once again warning cooks to take care when preparing their Christmas turkeys.

“Every year someone’s celebrations are ruined by food-poisoning caused by the improper handling and cooking of poultry which may contain salmonella organisms. However, there should be no danger to health if a few basic rules are followed”, Ivan Bratty, Food Safety Manager with the Department, cautions.

These rules for the safe preparation of poultry (turkey, chicken, goose and duck) include:

• Fresh poultry should be kept cool - in a refrigerator or covered in a cool place that is no more than 100C - until it is to be cooked;

• Frozen birds must be thoroughly defrosted before they are cooked and once defrosted should be cooked as soon as possible;

• The liquid from defrosting may be contaminated with bacteria and should be disposed of down an outside drain or sink, and the drain or sink carefully cleaned and disinfected;

• Remove giblets before cooking; frozen giblets must be defrosted before cooking;

• Prevent cross-contamination by keeping cooked food and raw food separate during storage and preparation;

• All working surfaces and utensils should be washed thoroughly with a detergent or sterilising agent after use; hands should be washed thoroughly;

• The meat must be thoroughly cooked until internal juices run clear;

• Extra cooking time or a higher oven temperature is needed if foil is being used to cover the bird during cooking;

• Stuffing should be cooked separately rather than inside the bird;

• After cooking, meat should not be kept at room temperature, but cooled quickly and then placed in the refrigerator;

• Avoid re-heating cooked meat whenever possible. If cooked meat is reheated, make sure it is heated up quickly and thoroughly.

The Department has a “Guide to the Safe Preparation, Cooking and Handling of Poultry”, which contains a chart showing recommended defrosting and cooking times. It can be obtained free-of-charge from the Department’s offices on the first floor of Murray House, Mount Havelock, Douglas, or from the Department’s website www.gov.im/dlge.

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