Don't serve up food poisoning this Christmas

A total of 80% of people wash their turkeys before cooking them, increasing significantly the risk of food poisoning, according to a new survey by the Food Standards Agency, the Agency warns
against washing meat because harmful bacteria could easily splash from raw meat and poultry to worktops, chopping boards, dishes and utensils. Germs that cause food poisoning can also linger on
surfaces for days.

The survey, which questioned more than 2000 people about their eating habits at Christmas, found that women over the age of 45 were the most frequent turkey-washing offenders, and cooks in the
north-east of England topped the hazard chart, with 90% likely to run their raw turkeys under the tap.

Judith Hilton, Head of Microbiological Safety at the Food Standards Agency, said: ‘Most people think they know how to prepare the Christmas meal with their eyes shut. But we’ve found that there
are still a couple of Christmas food safety clangers served up each year. Turkey washing seems to be the most common blunder.

Remember, it’s not possible to wash off the germs that cause food poisoning with water. They’re killed by heat. By washing your raw turkey, you’re actually more likely to spread the germs than
get rid of them.’

Results from the survey show that 17% of people aren’t sure how to tell when their turkey is cooked and, although formal reported incidents are fairly low, 2% of people think they have suffered
from festive food poisoning in the past five years.

So make sure your turkey is cooked properly:

» check it’s piping hot all the way through
» cut into the thickest part to check that none of the meat is pink
» if juices run out, they should be clear
»Listen out for celebrity chefs Gary Rhodes and Ainsley Harriott, who are featuring in the Agency’s radio campaign to help people avoid serving up food poisoning this Christmas.

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