/ Food & Drink, Health

Don’t dice with danger – Christmas dinner safety tips

Christmas place setting

Anyone cooking Christmas dinner will know the importance of timing, measuring and – the best bit – tasting. But are you a savvy chef when it comes to storing leftover sprouts and reheating the turkey?

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) took to Twitter last week to ensure you have a problem-free Christmas dinner. From fridge temperatures to dodging the dodgy tummies, I’ve wrapped up a selection box of their best tips.

Let’s start with the pièce de résistance – the bird. What did the FSA have to say about cooking and storing a turkey? Well, some people overestimate how much storage space they have:

‘Make sure you’ve room in your freezer to store your turkey.’

And when it comes to defrosting, the FSA warms: ‘Big birds can take up to 48 hours to thaw.’

Keep a cool head (and a cold fridge)

So, should you chance that jar of cranberry sauce that’s been in the fridge since last year? Probably not:

‘You should always check the jar for how long it will last after opening – even if fridged!’

And what’s the best temperature for storing leftovers safely? The FSA says it’s 0-5°C degrees  – a healthy fridge temperature.

If you want to have turkey sandwiches on Boxing Day, you need to take care of the leftovers quickly:

Saving the sprouts

No-one wants to waste the mountain of vegetables that they’ve peeled, chopped and diced. The food experts say that anything cooked should be cooled quickly and refrigerated.

‘Get brussels in the fridge within two hours, and you can eat them for 48 hours afterwards. Make sure they are fully reheated.’

For those of you cooking a veggie feast, be careful if the nut roast has rice in it:

‘You need to get it in the fridge within an hour. Then it’s fine for another 24. Make sure you reheat it until it’s piping hot.’

Dodge a dodgy tummy

Many forget that the food experts advise against washing raw turkey – which in essence results in splashing germs around your kitchen.  However, be sure to wash your veg and hands throughout your food prep.

If you’ve been unwell in the lead up to Christmas, when is it safe to cook?

I hope that these tips will help you have a safe and tasty Christmas feast. And hands off the sausage rolls, they’re mine.

Roger says:
24 December 2012

Xmas eve 22.51
Just got Turkey out of fridge. It wreaks and is green in some places. With the shops closed no turkey for X’mas. Does anyone know what my rights are. I don’t want to keep it in the fridge for obvious reasons so I have put it in the shed to mature there. I have taken pictures on my mobile which shows the discolouration. Is this all I need to do.

I’m so sorry to hear that Roger . I’m afraid the Which? offices are closed over the bank holidays. I’ll try and get an answer for you when I’m back in the office. Photographic evidence sounds sensible to me – and be sure to keep it away from your other food goods, as you’ve done, to avoid contamination. I hope a kind neighbour / relative might be able to share their turkey with you for tomorrow. We’ll see what we can do to advise on your rights in due course. Wishing you a very merry Christmas, Charlotte

Hi Roger,

Back with an answer now…You have the right to complain and ask for a refund as your turkey was not of ‘satisfactory quality’ under the Sale of Goods Act. We’d recommend calling the supermarket / shop you purchased the turkey from to ask if you need to physically take it in to the store or whether they’re happy to accept photographic evidence.

I asked our lawyers whether you’d be able to argue for any compensation due to the turkey (or lack of!) potentially spoiling your Christmas day. They suggested this would be a little trickier to argue as food is sold for functional reasons. They recommended writing to the store’s head office to ask if they’ll consider compensating you in any other way.

Hope that helps, Charlotte