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No bath for the Christmas turkey – food safety tips for the holiday period

While Santa might be real, the Food Safety Information Council says there are a lot of food safety Christmas myths out there including the need to wash the turkey before cooking it.
According to Rachelle Williams, Council Chair, 68% of people in the Council’s most recent national survey washed their turkey before cooking it.
‘Turkey is an important part of our Christmas tradition and still popular, with half of the people surveyed reported cooking a whole turkey, but it can be a source of food poisoning if not handled correctly.
‘The last thing your turkey needs is a bath before being cooked as cooking the turkey correctly to 75 °C in its thickest part is the best way to kill any bacteria present. Washing the raw turkey, or any other poultry, can spread food poisoning bacteria around your kitchen where it can contaminate your sink area and other food, utensils and your hands.
‘It is disappointing to see many Christmas recipes and chefs still recommending washing poultry and advising that poultry is cooked when the juices run clear - the only safe way to ensure it is the correct temperature of 75 °C is to use a meat thermometer.
“The Council is a health promotion charity and, as we gather with family and friends this Christmas, we are encouraging people to make a donation in lieu of a gift with one of our easily downloadable Christmas gift cards,’ Ms Williams concluded.
Here are 5 other food safety myths busted to keep your family and friends food safe during the holidays:
  1. No one goes hungry at a family celebration - don’t over cater and buy too much food that won’t fit in your fridge and leave you with too many leftovers.
  2. The fridge isn’t just for beer - make room in your fridge for perishable food by putting drinks on ice, this also means the fridge won’t constantly be opened by your guests.
  3. Christmas ham won’t last forever  - check the storage instructions and best before or use by date before removing the ham from its plastic wrap, cover it with clean cloth soaked in water and vinegar so it doesn’t dry out, and store it in the fridge below 5°C. Reduced salt hams are now becoming popular but will not last as long as conventional hams so think how much you are going to use in the next week or so and freeze some for later.
  4. Leaving food out in the sun for hours isn’t on - don’t leave dips and other perishable foods like patés, cold meats, poultry and salads out for more than two hours, put out small amounts and replace from the fridge every hour or so.
  5. Leftovers should be cooled to room temperature before refrigerating - with the Christmas leftovers its important not to leave them unrefrigerated and there is no need to cool to room temperature. So as soon as the cooked food has stopped steaming, divide leftovers into into small containers so they will cool quickly and refrigerate or freeze immediately. Use up refrigerated leftovers within 3 days and make sure your fridge is running at 5°C or below. Always reheat leftovers to 75°C in the centre of the item or the thickest part to kill any food poisoning bugs
Take our Christmas and holiday entertaining quiz and for more information see our Food safety at Christmas advice
Media contact:
Lydia Buchtmann, Food Safety Information Council, 0407 626 688 or

Chair Report for December 2015

Food Safety Week 2015 is now our most successful ever, with nearly 4000 people having had a go at the “Do you know” quiz, and multiple interviews.
We have five new members; the Australian Egg Corporation Ltd and four individuals.
The Christmas and Back to Work / School campaigns are well on their way and our new TV ads have been approved and will be on screens over summer (and beyond).
Our Interim Report showing progress on our six goals for 2015/16 has been prepared and presented to the Board. The following is a summary;
Goal One and Two - To have a contract CEO by 01 January 2015 and to have the day to day operations of the FSIC fully funded by 31 December 2015
All work in the FSIC is currently being done by the members on a voluntary basis, and for the organisation to continue and to grow, this is not feasible in the long term. Therefore a contract CEO is urgently required to manage the membership and sponsorship processes as well as the day to day operations. This is dependent upon obtaining funding for the day to day operations of the FSIC. We approached the Rural Health Minister, who has food responsibility, in October and another meeting with her senior staff is being planned for early February. The Board is very hopeful that these two goals will be met by the AGM.
Goal Three - To have the major food retailers and at least 20 local councils as members by the 2015 AGM
This has not been started to date as the members have not had time. This will be one of the first projects for the CEO once they start. A membership drive is being commenced in January. The Board expects that this goal will be achieved.
Goal Four - To have all state and territory jurisdictions as members by the 2015 AGM
This has started but will be another project for the CEO. The Board expects that this goal will be achieved.
Goal Five - To identify suitably qualified and experienced people to present to the 2015 AGM as potential Board members to ensure all positions are filled.
The Chair has undertaken a review of the skills and expertise of the current Board members and identified that further people are required to fill all the positions and to give the Board a full range of perspectives and skills. The Chair will be identifying suitable people to fill these positions and inform the Board by the end of February. The Board expects that all positions will be filled at the May AGM.
Goal Six - To improve the survey results of the Annual Focus Issue
A Sponsorship Plan has been developed showing what campaign or project is being done when and what sponsorship we will be seeking for it. The Annual Focus for 2015 is on use by date and improving the consumer’s knowledge on what it means. This will be a key part of the Sponsorship Plan for the new year.
2015 has been a big year for the FSIC and we are set for a very big future helping consumers better understand food safety– as long as we can secure funding.
I want to take this opportunity to sincerely thank the Board members, Committee Chairs and the committee members for their huge contribution this year, without it the FSIC would not be where it is today – about to celebrate it’s 20th year.
I also want to wish all members a very Merry Christmas and the best of wishes for a happy and successful new year.
Rachelle Williams

Copyright © 2015 Food Safety Information Council, All rights reserved.

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