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Talking turkey (safety) this Christmas

20 Dec 2016

Christmas is the time for giving but the NSW Food Authority is urging people not to give loved ones food poisoning this festive season.

NSW Food Authority CEO Dr Lisa Szabo says this time of year people are often hosting meals for larger numbers than they are used to and cooking foods they’re not familiar with.

"The turkey for Christmas lunch is an example of this, unlike our northern hemisphere counterparts, very few people in this part of the world would roast a whole bird during the year and an inexperienced person preparing and cooking poultry can be a recipe for disaster," Dr Szabo said.

"Reducing the risk isn’t a difficult task and to help the NSW Food Authority has a special section on its website to help your festive feast stay on track.

The summer eating section which includes a handy ‘Turkey tips’ page outlining how best to prepare a turkey safely.

The tips include:

  • Plan ahead – a frozen turkey should never be defrosted on the bench and it can take up to three days to defrost in the fridge
  • Make space – turkeys are large and while its defrosting you need to ensure it doesn’t touch other foods
  • Cook thoroughly – turkey meat should be white not pink, the best way to ensure it is cooked to the recommended 75°C is to use a meat thermometer
  • Serve – turkey needs to be eaten or placed in the fridge within 2 hours of cooking
  • Leftovers – refrigerate leftovers and eat or freeze within 3 days

The section also includes safety advice for other traditional Christmas foods such as ham and seafood and information on food safety when you are preparing for larger numbers of people.

At Christmas time, like any other time, it is important to follow the golden rules of food safety.

Always observe good hygiene and remember to keep it cold, keep it clean, keep it hot and check the labels.

Food poisoning is an unpleasant and serious illness that effects up to 4.1 million Australians every year.

"Authorities traditionally see a spike in food poisoning rates during the warmer months as the hotter weather creates an ideal environment for bacteria such as Salmonella to grow," Dr Szabo said.

"Stay off the naughty list this year by following the NSW Food Authority’s food safety advice and make sure your Christmas is a happy and healthy one."

For festive food safety advice and broader information to keep you food safe in the warmer months head to



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