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Don't get stuffed by food poisoning this Christmas

To make sure your Christmas dinner doesn't knock the stuffing out of you Mansfield District Council is offering tips on how to prevent food poisoning when preparing your festive feast.

Food poisoning is a serious illness, which can not only ruin your Christmas but also be fatal in severe cases.

You can help prevent food poisoning from ruining your festive period by following simple and straight forward good food hygiene advice.

General food hygiene advice:

  • Anyone who is suffering from sickness, diarrhoea, cold / flu or similar should not prepare food as they can pass on their illness through the food they handle.
  • Keep fridge and freezer doors closed as much as possible - leaving fridge and freezer doors open raises their temperature and can let food poisoning bacteria grow on foods kept in them.
  • The recommended temperature for a domestic fridge is 5°C or below.
  • Always wash your hands before preparing food, after handling raw meat and going to the toilet.
  • Don't overload your fridge or freezer as this can affect the temperature.

Party food and leftovers:

  • Don't leave high risk food such as sandwiches, cooked meats, fish and poultry out at room temperature as food poisoning bacteria can grow on them. Always keep foods in the fridge and only get them out when they need to be served.
  • Throw away any leftovers after 48 hours.
  • Make sure leftovers are reheated until they are piping hot throughout and don't reheat them more than once.

Defrosting your turkey:

  • You must make sure that your turkey is properly defrosted before you cook it. Failing to do so can mean that parts of the turkey will be undercooked when you serve it, which greatly increases the risk of food poisoning. Please see the table below for a quick reference guide for how long it may take to defrost your turkey:


Defrost Time

In a Fridge

Approx. 10 to 12 hours per kg.

In a Cool Room

Approx. 3 to 4 hours per kg.

At Room Temperature

Approx. 2 hours per kg.

Cooking your turkey:

  • Always make sure your turkey is properly cooked and piping hot throughout before you serve it. If your turkey comes with cooking guidance then follow that advice. However, if your turkey does not come with any cooking instructions then the table below can be used as a general guide.

Turkey Weight

Approx. Cooking Time at;

180°C / 350°F / Gas Mark 4

Under 4.5 kg.

45 minutes per kg. plus 20 minutes

4.5 kg to 6.5 kg.

40 minutes per kg.

Over 6.5 kg.

35 minutes per kg.

  • You can use different methods to check that your turkey is properly cooked such as checking that the juices running from the turkey are clear. If you have a probe thermometer the turkey should be at least 75°C at the middle of the thickest part of the meat and no part of the meat should be pink / red when you cut into it.

The Council's Environmental Health team has produced a leaflet which contains this advice along with tasty recipes suggestions for paprika turkey - an ideal way to use up that leftover turkey, and poached vanilla pear - a fruity alternative to Christmas pudding.

Copies of the leaflet are available from the Council's Civic Centre and from butcher's shops around the District. You can also download a copy of the leaflet by clicking on the link on the right hand side of this page.

If you would like any further food safety advice, please contact the Council's Environmental Health team on 01623 463 189.

Published 13 December 2012

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