Christmas cooking: a recipe for disaster

Don't risk it: This festive season, make sure you are very careful with food preparation and storage. Photo: Shutterstock
Don't risk it: This festive season, make sure you are very careful with food preparation and storage. Photo: Shutterstock

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Avoiding food poisoning this festive season could be as easy as throwing a thermometer in the Kris Kringle. 

A thermometer is the only way to truly know if your meat is cooked and your fridge is running at the correct temperature, according to the Food Safety Information Council.

And by ensuring these two things households can cut down and kill the amount of bacteria present on their food. 

Council chair Rachelle Williams said Christmas could be a recipe for disaster for food poisoning as people prepared fancy dishes they hadn’t cooked before, overloaded their fridges in the heat, and served food to elderly, young and pregnant friends and relatives.

“We know from our latest research that only 25 per cent of Australian households own a meat thermometer and even fewer report using one in the previous month,” she said.

“You can’t tell if riskier foods like the Christmas turkey or rolled roasts are cooked to 75 degrees just by looking, you really need a meat thermometer.

“If you already have a meat thermometer, rummage through that kitchen drawer and start to use it.

“Thermometers don’t have to be expensive, with some costing under $20, so they can make great presents.”

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FOOD SAFETY TIPS:

1. Plan ahead and don’t buy too much food. Overstocking your fridge can affect the temperature.

2. Make room in your fridge by removing alcohol and soft drinks and put them on ice instead. This also stops guests opening the fridge and helps to maintain the temperature at 5 degrees or below.

3. Think about getting a turkey breast or a turkey buffé that is simpler to cook than a whole turkey. 

4. Don’t wash any poultry before cooking as it will spread the bacteria around your kitchen. Cook the turkey until a meat thermometer shows it has reached 75 degrees in the thickest part of the thigh.

5. Cooked egg dishes are simple and nutritious but try to avoid raw or minimally cooked egg dishes, which can be a particular risk for food poisoning.

6. Christmas ham won’t last forever – check the storage instructions and best before or use by date before removing the ham from its plastic wrap, cover it with clean cloth soaked in water and vinegar so it doesn’t dry out, and store it in the fridge below 5 degrees.

7. Don’t leave dips and other perishable chilled foods out for more than two hours. Put out small amounts and replace them.

8. Refrigerate leftovers as soon as possible.

9. Always reheat leftovers to 75 degrees in the centre of the item or the thickest part to kill any food poisoning bugs.

10. Don’t forget to wash your hands in warm soapy water before preparing and cooking food.