CHRISTMAS FOOD: Bugs Away, Make It a Safer Christmas
Dr Anthony Hilton has been a lecturer in microbiology at Aston University since 2000. He was previously a lecturer in food microbiology at Birmingham University.
His research is focused upon food microbiology, applied microbiology, molecular microbiology, salmonella, campylobacter, MRSA and escherichia coli 0157 and the molecular typing of micro-organisms.
His top ten tips for a bug free Christmas are: It is imperative that chilled food is properly stored in the refrigerator. Use a fridge thermometer and check that the temperature is always less than 8C. Remember, overloading the fridge will prevent the cold air from circulating and stop the refrigerator working properly.
Keep raw meats at the bottom of the fridge so that juices do not drip onto other foods.
Ideally a turkey should be defrosted in the fridge, but if space does not allow this, defrost in as cool a space as possible. If you have a frozen turkey ensure it is thoroughly defrosted before cooking.
Ensure meat is cooked the whole way through. Follow the guidelines for cooking times and check that the juices are running clear and no pink bits remain. You can use a food thermometer to check that the meat is at least 70C in the thickest part of the bird.
Do not leave leftovers lying around at room temperature but make sure hot food has cooled down before putting it in the fridge. This process can be speeded up by dividing the food into smaller portions.
Reheated food should be cooked properly again not just warmed up. Food should only be reheated once.
The most common foodborne infections are caused by salmonella and campylobacter - mainly from consumption of undercooked poultry - and escherichia coli. Just because you are not cooking meats don't be complacent, food poisoning bacteria can contaminate all food. …