Christmas food poisoning warningDon't wash your uncooked turkey, says FSA

13 December 2007

Christmas Turkey

Save time and money doing your food shopping online

Eight of ten people will increase their risk of suffering food poisoning this Christmas by washing their turkey before cooking it, the UK’s food watchdog has warned.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) survey of 2,148 people found that women over the age of 45 were the most likely to wash a turkey.

It also found that 17% of people aren't sure how to tell when their turkey is cooked and 2% of people think they have suffered from festive food poisoning in the past five years.

The FSA warns against washing meat because harmful bacteria can easily splash from raw meat and poultry on to worktops, chopping boards, dishes and utensils

Raw meat

The watchdog warns that germs that cause food poisoning can also linger on surfaces for days.

Judith Hilton, FSA Head of Microbiological Safety, said: 'Most people think they know how to prepare the Christmas meal with their eyes shut.

‘But we've found that there are still a couple of Christmas food safety clangers served up each year. Turkey washing seems to be the most common blunder.

'Remember, it's not possible to wash off all the germs that cause food poisoning with water. They're killed by heat. By washing your raw turkey, you're actually more likely to spread the germs than get rid of them.'

Advert campaign

Celebrity chefs Gary Rhodes and Ainsley Harriott will feature in an FSA radio advert campaign this year to help people avoid serving up food poisoning at Christmas.

The FSA says that to ensure that your turkey is cooked properly, make sure it is piping hot all the way through, cut into the thickest part to check that none of the meat is pink, and if juices run out they should be clear.