28 Sept 2022

How to to cook the turkey safely on Christmas Day?

10 Tips to Avoid Food Poisoning from your Turkey this Christmas

Christmas turkey

How to cook Christmas Dinner safely?

Did you know that food poisoning incidents increase every December in Ireland? Many incidences of food poisoning are preventable especially when cooking the turkey on Christmas Day.

Orlagh Deegan, Licenced Food Safety Trainer (NHP, EHAI, FSPA) at and member of the Food Safety Professionals Association gives us some food safety tips  so you can enjoy your Christmas dinner and minimise the risk of food poisoning in your household.

Top Turkey Tips to Ensure Food Safety

1.       Order your turkey well in advance from a reputable supplier. Collect it as close to Christmas as possible. Ensure proper storage of your turkey either in your freezer if buying a frozen turkey or fridge.

2.       Thoroughly clean your fridge with warm soapy water in advance of your Christmas shopping.

3.       If you need to defrost a frozen turkey, this should be done on the bottom shelf of your fridge, preferably in a large dish or tray so any juices do not contaminate your fridge. Defrosting  will take approx 24hrs per 5lbs, so if you have bought a whopper turkey it may take several days.

4.       Your fridge should be 5 C or below. Do not over pack your fridge as this is a leading cause of refrigerator breakdown over the festive period.

5.       DO NOT wash your turkey. This spreads harmful bacteria (Campylobacter, a nasty bacteria present on most poultry products) around your sink and kitchen surfaces.

6.       Bearing the last point in mind, handle your turkey as little as possible to avoid the spread of bacteria. Ensure you thoroughly wash your hands with warm soapy water after handling.

7.       Preheat the oven to 180 C, place the turkey in a large roasting tray. Cover the turkey with foil and baste every hour.

8.       Cooking times depend on the size of your turkey. A simple rule for cooking time is:

·          Turkeys less than 4kg (8.5lbs) weight cook for 20 minutes per kg plus 70mins extra time

·         Turkeys over 4kg, cook for 20 minutes per kg plus 90 minutes extra time

Remove foil for the last hour of cooking. Remember a stuffed turkey requires additional time.

9.       To ensure your turkey if fully cooked, ensure there is no pink meat, all juice should run clear and the meat should be piping hot throughout. If you have a thermometer, sterilise and insert the probe – you must achieve a temperature of over 75 C. Let the turkey rest for at least 15 minutes before carving.

10.   Leftovers can be eaten within 3 days. To ensure safety of leftover turkey, cool the meat as quickly as possible, cover and put into the fridge within 2 hours. Leftovers should be eaten within 3 days and further leftovers should be discarded. Reheat until piping hot and only reheat once.

Choice Training & Consultancy wish you a safe and happy Christmas. If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact Orlagh Deegan at

Orlagh Deegan – Licenced Food Safety Trainer with Food Safety Professionals Association, National Hygiene Partnership and Environmental Health Association.

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