Food safety this Christmas

Christmas is a time when your fridge is likely to be choca-block full with delicious seasonal foods. This means that at this time of year, being careful with food safety is essential as over-crowded fridges can leave food open to contamination. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you are stacking your fridge this Christmas.

  • Keep your fridge clean. Throw out old food, wash the insides with warm soapy water and rinse.
  • Read the label on all packages for storage instructions.
  • Store cooked food on the higher shelves, either in a container or covered.
  • Cooked food should be covered and stored after the steam has stopped evaporating. Do not leave it out on the kitchen counter too long.
  • Store raw meats, poultry or fish near the bottom of the fridge.
  • Do not overload the fridge with warm food. In an over-loaded fridge, warm food will not be able to cool down to the core. When the centre of the food stays warm for too long germs can multiply.
  • After shopping put your chilled and frozen food into your fridge and freezer as soon as possible. Freeze food you don’t intend to use before its ‘use by’ date.
  • When re-heating food make sure to heat it until it is piping hot to kill any bacteria which may have grown on the food in the fridge. Never reheat food more than once.
  • If you have any doubt about the safety of any food, throw it out.

Turkey safety

While frozen, a turkey is safe indefinitely. However, as soon as it begins to defrost, any bacteria that may have been present before freezing can begin to grow again. There are three safe ways to defrost a turkey; in the fridge, in cold water or in the microwave. Frozen turkey should not be left anywhere the temperature cannot be constantly monitored.

Thawing in the fridge

Plan ahead: allow approximately 24 hours for every 5 pounds of turkey in a fridge kept at 4° C. Remember, some parts of the fridge are colder than others (the bottom of the fridge is colder) so defrosting could take a little longer.

Cold water thawing

Allow about 30 minutes per pound. Make sure the turkey is in a leak-proof package or plastic bag. If the bag leaks, bacteria could be introduced to the food.

Immerse the turkey in cold tap water. Check the water frequently to make sure it stays cold and change the water regularly.

Microwave thawing

Follow the manufacturers instructions to thaw the turkey. Plan to cook it immediately after thawing because some areas of the food may become warm during microwaving.

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