Advice on cooking your Christmas turkey

Christmas turkey

Christmas turkey

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The government has issued guidance on cooking Christmas meals.

The advice about cooking poultry has come from the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture.

Ralph Peake MHK, the politician at DEFA with responsibility for environment, safety and health, said: ‘Every year, illness occurs after people eat poultry containing food poisoning organisms such as campylobacter and salmonella. The risks to health can be dramatically reduced provided some simple rules are followed.’

Advice on the storage, preparation and cooking of poultry, including a guide to thawing/cooking times, can be found at

It includes:


Frozen birds should be kept in a freezer until ready for thawing.

Fresh poultry should be kept in a covered container in a refrigerator. It is important that the surface of birds doesn’t come into contact with other foods when stored.


Frozen birds must be thoroughly defrosted (preferably in a refrigerator), prior to cooking.

Remove giblets before cooking. Frozen giblets should not be used until thoroughly thawed.

Beware of the liquid that gathers on thawing, which can contain bacteria. Carefully dispose of it down the drain and wash the sink before further use.

Cook as soon as possible after thawing or, if a fresh bird, immediately after taking out of the refrigerator.

Wash all working surfaces and utensils thoroughly with a detergent/steriliser before preparing other food. Then wash hands thoroughly.


It is essential that the meat is thoroughly cooked until the internal juices run clear. Extra cooking time or a higher oven temperature is required when foil is used to cover the bird.

After cooking:

Serve immediately or cool as quickly as possible in a cool room. After cooling, store in a refrigerator.

Ensure cooked poultry does not come into contact with any possible source of contamination (eg, raw vegetables, raw meat).

Avoid re-heating.

Anyone with queries over any aspect of food safety should contact 685894 or email

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