Cooking turkey – some tips to avoid food poisoning this Christmas

Cooking Turkey Safely
Cooking Turkey Safely

Cook the perfect turkey with our tips on defrosting and cooking poultry safely, and how to store leftovers.

Defrosting your turkey

Preparing the turkey

Cooking the turkey

Storing leftovers

Defrosting your turkey

If you buy a frozen turkey, make sure that the turkey is properly defrosted before cooking it. If it’s still partially frozen, it may not cook evenly, which means that harmful bacteria could survive the cooking process.

Defrosting should be done in the fridge if possible (or somewhere cool) and separated from touching other foods, with a container large enough to catch the defrosted juices. This is important to stop cross-contamination.

Defrosting checklist

Work out defrosting time in advance, so you know how much time to allow – it can take at least a couple of days for a large turkey to thaw.

When you start defrosting, take the turkey out of its packaging, put it on a large dish and cover. The dish will hold the liquid that comes out of the thawing turkey.

Remove the giblets and the neck as soon as possible to speed up the thawing process. Wash your hands thoroughly after handling raw turkey, giblets or any other raw meat.

Before cooking, make sure there aren’t any ice crystals in the cavity. Test the thicker parts of the turkey with a fork to tell whether the meat feels frozen.

Turkey (and any other poultry) is best defrosted in a covered dish at the bottom of the fridge so that it can’t drip onto other foods.

Pour away the liquid that comes out of the defrosting turkey regularly to stop it overflowing and spreading bacteria. Be careful not to splash the liquid onto worktops, dishes, cloths or other food.

Bear in mind what else is you have stored in the fridge. Cooked meats need to be covered and stored higher up.

If the bird is too big for the fridge, put it somewhere out of reach from animals and children where it won’t touch other foods. A cool room, shed or garage are all good places.

If you’re not using the fridge, watch out for sudden changes in room temperature, as they could prevent the turkey from thawing evenly.

Defrosting times

To work out the defrosting time for your turkey, check the packaging for any guidance first. If there aren’t any defrosting instructions, use the following times to work out roughly how long it will take to thaw your turkey.

in a fridge at 4ºC (39ºF), allow about 10 to 12 hours per kg, but remember that not all fridges will be this temperature

in a cool room (below 17.5ºC, 64ºF), allow approximately three to four hours per kg, or longer if the room is particularly cold

at room temperature (about 20ºC, 68ºF) allow approximately two hours per kg

When your turkey is fully defrosted, put it in the fridge until you’re ready to cook it. If this isn’t possible, make sure you cook it immediately.

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Preparing the turkey

Keep the uncooked turkey away from food that’s ready to eat. If raw poultry, or other raw meat, touches or drips onto these foods, bacteria will spread and may cause food poisoning.

Bacteria can spread from raw meat and poultry to worktops, chopping boards, dishes and utensils. To keep your Christmas food safe, remember the following things:

After touching raw poultry or other raw meat, always wash your hands with warm water and soap, and dry them thoroughly.

There’s no need to wash your turkey before your cook it. If you do, bacteria from raw poultry can splash onto worktops, dishes and other foods. Proper cooking will kill any bacteria.

Always clean worktops, chopping boards, dishes and utensils thoroughly after they have touched raw poultry or meat.

Never use the same chopping board for raw poultry or meat and ready-to-eat food without washing it thoroughly in warm soapy water first. If possible, use a separate chopping board just for raw meat and poultry.

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Cooking your tukey

Plan your cooking time in advance to make sure you get the bird in the oven early enough to cook it thoroughly. A large turkey can take several hours to cook properly. Eating undercooked turkey (or other poultry) could cause food poisoning.

Three ways you can tell a turkey is cooked:

the meat should be steaming hot all the way through

none of the meat should be pink when you cut into the thickest part of the bird

the juices should run clear when you pierce the turkey or press the thigh

If you’re using a temperature probe or food thermometer, ensure that the thickest part of the bird (between the breast and the thigh) reaches at least 70°C for two minutes.

Turkey cooking times

The cooking times below are based on an unstuffed bird. It’s better to cook your stuffing in a separate roasting tin, rather than inside the bird, so that it will cook more easily and the cooking guidelines will be more accurate.

If you cook your bird with the stuffing inside, you need to allow extra time for the stuffing and for the fact that it cooks more slowly.

Some ovens, such as fan-assisted ovens, might cook the bird more quickly – check the guidance on the packaging and the manufacturer’s handbook for your oven if you can.

As a general guide, in an oven preheated to 180ºC (350ºF, Gas Mark 4):

allow 45 minutes per kg plus 20 minutes for a turkey under 4.5kg

allow 40 minutes per kg for a turkey that’s between 4.5kg and 6.5kg

allow 35 minutes per kg for a turkey of more than 6.5kg

Cover your turkey with foil during cooking and uncover for the last 30 minutes to brown the skin. To stop the meat drying out, baste it every hour during cooking.

Cooking times for other birds

Other birds, such as goose and duck, need different cooking times and temperatures. The oven should always be hotter for duck and goose in order to melt the fat under the skin.

goose should be cooked in a preheated oven at 200ºC/425ºF/gas mark 7 for 35 minutes per kg

duck should be cooked in a preheated oven for 45 minutes per kg at 200ºC/400ºF/gas mark 6

chicken should be cooked in a preheated oven at 180ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4 for 45 minutes per kg plus 20 minutes

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Storing leftovers

Keep cooked meat and poultry in the fridge. If they are left out at room temperature, bacteria that causes food poisoning can grow and multiply.

After you’ve feasted on the turkey, cool any leftovers as quickly as possible (within one or two hours), cover them and put them in the fridge. Ideally, try to use up leftovers within 48 hours.

When you’re serving cold turkey, take out only as much as you’re going to use and put the rest back in the fridge. Don’t leave a plate of turkey or cold meats out all day, for example, on a buffet.bacteria

 

If you’re reheating leftover turkey or other food, always make sure it’s steaming hot all the way through before you eat it. Don’t reheat more than once. Ideally, use leftovers within 48 hours.

Find out more on storing food safely in our food hygiene section.

Getting the right probiotic for your child – A cross post from Dr Sonya Doherty

Getting the right probiotic for your child
Getting the right probiotic for your child

Getting the right probiotic for your child – A cross post from Dr Sonya Doherty

The National Institute of Health is currently sequencing the genomes of the good strains of bacteria that live in the digestive tracts of human beings. These good strains of bacteria are responsible for a wide range of health benefits including regulating immune function, decreasing inflammation, breakdown of nutrients and conversion of vitamins to their active form.

One incredible finding the NIH has discovered is that the microbes that live in the digestive tract PLAY A CRITICAL ROLE IN POST NATAL DEVELOPMENT.

Key brain chemicals are produced and regulated with the help of good bacteria in the digestive tract. This may explain why children born via C-section have higher rates of developmental delay and inflammatory issues like eczema, asthma and allergies. 90% of serotonin is produced in the digestive tract. Serotonin is responsible for language development, sleep, appetite, mood, behaviour and sensory processing. Dopamine is also regulated in the digestive tract requiring activation of vitamins to ensure production and breakdown. Dopamine is required for fundamental brain function, processing of information, social and emotional interaction, attention and focus.

So, getting the right probiotic for your child is VERY IMPORTANT. Here is some information about some very important strains needed for healthy digestive function.

Bifidobacterium bifidum (lactis): Research on Bifidobacteria has established that these organisms enhance the assimilation of minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc.


Bifidobacterium infantis
: Bifidobacterium infantis is an important organism shown to stimulate production of immunomodulating agents such as cytokines. Bacteriocidal activity is also observed against such pathogens as Clostridia, Salmonella, and Shigella.

Lactobacillus acidophilus: L. acidophilus is one of the most important microorganisms found in the small intestines. It is well documented that L. acidophilus produces natural antibiotics like lactocidin, acidophilin which enhances resistance or immunity. L. acidophilus has known antimicrobial activity against Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella, E.coli and Candida albicans.

Lactobacillus brevis: Lactobacillus brevis is a lactic acid producing organism important in the synthesis of vitamins D and K.

Lactobacillus GG: Culturelle is the only probiotic supplement containing Lactobacillus GG.  The strain is resistant to stomach acid and bile, allowing it to survive its passage through the digestive tract and reach the large intestine intact. Lactobacillus GG acts against yeast and clostridia.  It helps to breakdown gluten and casein.


Lactobacillus salivarius
: Lactobacillus salivarius is important in normalizing the gut flora of those dealing with chronic bowel conditions and decreases inflammation in the digestive tract.

You can read the original article here.

12 tips for a healthy Christmas and Thanksgiving

Tips for a safe Christmas and Thanksgiving
Tips for a safe Christmas and Thanksgiving

From defrosting turkey to using leftovers, these food safety tips will help stop your turkey from knocking the stuffing out of you this Christmas. (and Thanksgiving)

Avoid cross-contamination

Keep all raw food, whether it’s turkey or vegetables, separate from ready-to-eat foods to avoid cross-contamination. Use separate chopping boards for raw food and ready-to-eat food. Raw foods can contain harmful bacteria that are spread very easily to anything they touch, including other foods, worktops, chopping boards and knives.

Set the fridge to 5°C

Store food that needs to be chilled in the fridge until you need it. Make sure the fridge temperature is below 5°C. Don’t pack food too tightly, as the cold air needs to circulate to cool food down. If you’re storing food such as fresh vegetables outside in a garage or shed, keep them in a sealed container.

Wash your hands

Always wash and dry your hands thoroughly before and after handling food, especially when handling and preparing raw meat and poultry. You also need to remember to wash and dry your hands after going to the toilet, touching the bin or touching any pets. Bugs are spread between food, surfaces and utensils most effectively on wet or damp hands.

Defrost turkey safely

Defrost the turkey on a large dish and cover, preferably in the fridge. Remove the giblets and the neck to speed up thawing. Alternatively, defrost the turkey in a cool, clean place where the temperature is fairly constant. Keep in mind that the temperature of where the turkey is kept will affect thawing times.

Turkey defrosting times

It can take up to 48 hours for a large turkey to thaw. To work out the defrosting time for your turkey, check the packaging. If there aren’t any defrosting instructions, use the following times as a guide:

in a fridge at 4ºC (39ºF), allow about 10 to 12 hours per kg

in a cool room (below 17.5ºC, 64ºF), allow approximately three to four hours per kg

at room temperature (about 20ºC, 68ºF), allow approximately two hours per kg

A turkey is fully defrosted when there are no ice crystals inside the cavity and the meat is soft when you insert a fork or skewer. Once thawed, store it in the fridge until you are ready to cook it. If this isn’t possible, you should cook it immediately.

Don’t wash the bird

Eighty per cent of people say they wash their turkeys before cooking them, but this significantly increases the risk of food poisoning by splashing germs around the kitchen. Don’t wash your bird, because it will only spread germs. Thorough cooking will kill any bacteria that might be present.

Cook turkey properly

Seventeen per cent of people aren’t sure how to tell when their turkey is cooked. Make sure your turkey is steaming hot all the way through before serving. When you cut into the thickest part of the turkey, none of the meat should be pink. If juices flow out when you pierce the turkey or when you press the thigh, they should be clear. If you’re using a temperature probe or food thermometer, ensure that the thickest part of the bird (between the breast and the thigh) reaches at least 70°C for two minutes.

Find out more about turkey cooking times.

Goose and other birds

Other birds, such as goose and duck, have different cooking times and temperatures. The oven should always be hotter for duck and goose in order to melt the fat under the skin.

goose should be cooked in a preheated oven at 200ºC/425ºF/Gas Mark 7 for 35 minutes per kg

duck should be cooked in a preheated oven for 45 minutes per kg at 200ºC/400ºF/Gas Mark 6

chicken should be cooked in a preheated oven at 180ºC/350ºF/Gas Mark 4 for 45 minutes per kg plus 20 minutes

Wash your veg

Most of the bacteria on vegetables will be in the soil attached to the produce. Washing to remove any soil is therefore particularly important. When you wash vegetables, don’t just hold them under the running tap. Rub them under water, for example in a bowl of fresh water. Start with the least soiled items first and give each of them a final rinse. Washing loose produce is particularly important, as it tends to have more soil attached to it than pre-packaged fruit and vegetables.

Know your dates

Sniffing food is not a reliable way of telling whether food is still safe to eat. Some harmful bacteria don’t always change the way foods smell, taste or look. Food with a “use-by” date goes off quite quickly and it can be dangerous to eat after this date. Food with a “best before” date is longer-lasting. It may not be at its best quality after this date but should be safe to eat. Eggs can be eaten a day or two after their best before date, as long as they are cooked thoroughly until both yolk and white are solid, or if they are used in dishes where they will be fully cooked, such as a cake.

Preparing a buffet

Cold items for a buffet should remain covered and in the fridge until the last minute. Don’t keep them out for more than four hours. Food kept out for longer could be open to harmful bacteria if left to get warm at room temperature. Foods which are cooked and intended to be served cold should be cooled as quickly as possible, ideally within one to two hours. You can cool food down faster by separating it into small batches, placing it in a container and placing the container in a shallow dish of cold water.

Cool leftovers

Cool leftovers as quickly as possible, ideally within 90 minutes, then cover and refrigerate. Splitting food into smaller portions can help cooling. Use leftovers within two days and reheat until they are steaming hot all the way through. Don’t reheat leftovers more than once. If you want to keep leftovers longer than two days, you can freeze them instead. Cool leftovers as described above before putting them in the freezer. Once defrosted, don’t refreeze the leftovers unless you cook them again first.

Actinomycosis – what are the signs and symptoms of actinomycosis?

Actinomycosis
Actinomycosis

Introduction

Actinomycosis is a rare type of bacterial infection caused by a group of bacteria called actinomycetaceae.

Most bacterial infections are confined to one part of the body because the bacteria are unable to penetrate the body’s tissue.

However, actinomycosis is unusual in that the infection is able to move slowly but steadily through body tissue.


Symptoms of actinomycosis vary depending on the type of infection, but can include:

  • swelling and inflammation of affected tissue
  • tissue damage that results in scar tissue
  • formation of abscesses (pus-filled swellings)
  • small holes or tunnels that develop in tissue and leak a type of lumpy pus

Read more about the symptoms of actinomycosis.

Types of actinomycosis

In theory, actinomycosis can develop almost anywhere inside the tissue of the human body. But the condition tends to affect certain areas of the body and can be classified into four main types.

They are:

  • oral cervicofacial actinomycosis
  • thoracic actinomycosis
  • abdominal actinomycosis
  • pelvic actinomycosis

These are described below.

Oral cervicofacial actinomycosis

Oral cervicofacial actinomycosis is where the infection develops inside the neck, jaw or mouth. In the past, if the condition developed in the jaw it was known as lumpy jaw.

Most cases of oral cervicofacial actinomycosis are caused by dental problems, such as tooth decay or a jaw injury.

Oral cervicofacial actinomycosis is the most common type of actinomycosis, accounting for 50-70% of all cases.

Thoracic actinomycosis

Thoracic actinomycosis is where the infection develops inside the lungs or associated airways.

Most cases of thoracic actinomycosis are thought to be caused by people accidentally inhaling droplets of contaminated fluid into their lungs.

Thoracic actinomycosis accounts for an estimated 15-20% of cases.

Abdominal actinomycosis

Abdominal actinomycosis is where the infection develops inside the abdomen (tummy).

This type of actinomycosis can have a range of potential causes. It can develop as a secondary complication of a more common infection, such as appendicitis, or after accidentally swallowing a foreign object, such as a chicken bone.

Abdominal actinomycosis accounts for an estimated 20% of all cases.

Pelvic actinomycosis

Pelvic actinomycosis is where the infection develops inside the pelvis.

It usually only occurs in women because most cases are caused when the actinomyces bacteria are spread from the female genitals into the pelvis.

Most cases of pelvic actinomycosis are thought to be associated with the long-term use of an intrauterine device (IUD). This type of contraceptive is often known as the coil.

Pelvic actinomycosis usually only occurs if the coil is left in for longer than the manufacturer recommends.

Pelvic actinomycosis accounts for an estimated 10% of all cases.

What causes actinomycosis?

Actinomycosis is caused by a family of bacteria known as actinomycetaceae. In most cases, the bacteria live harmlessly on the lining of the mouth, throat, digestive system and vagina (in women).

The bacteria only pose a problem if the tissue lining becomes damaged by injury or disease, allowing the bacteria to penetrate deeper into the body.

This is potentially serious because these are anaerobic bacteria, which means they thrive in parts of the body where there isn’t much oxygen, such as deep inside body tissues.

However, an advantage of actinomyces bacteria being anaerobic is that they can’t survive outside the human body. This means that actinomycosis isn’t a contagious condition.

Read more about the causes of actinomycosis.

Diagnosing actinomycosis

In its initial stages, actinomycosis can be a challenging condition to diagnose correctly because it shares symptoms with other more common conditions. It’s often only discovered during tests or surgery to check for other conditions.

For example, many cases of actinomycosis are detected when biopsies are carried out to check for cancer. A biopsy is where a small tissue sample is removed so it can be examined under a microscope.

Actinomycosis can usually be more confidently diagnosed in its later stages, after the sinus tracts have appeared in the surface of the skin.

This is because the sulphur granules produced by the sinus tracts during an actinomycosis infection have a distinctive shape that can be identified under a microscope.

Treating actinomycosis

Actinomycosis usually responds well to treatment, which involves taking a long-term course of antibiotics.

Antibiotics

An initial course of antibiotic injections is usually recommended for 2 to 6 weeks, followed by antibiotic tablets for another 6 to 12 months.

A nurse should be able to teach you how to administer antibiotic injections at home so you don’t need to stay in hospital for the duration of the course.

The preferred antibiotics for treating actinomycosis are benzylpenicillin, which is used for the antibiotic injections, and amoxicillin tablets.

In some cases, other bacteria are also present and more than one antibiotic or other antibiotics will need to be given.

Side effects of these antibiotics include:

  • diarrhoea
  • nausea (feeling sick)
  • skin rash
  • increased vulnerability to fungal infections, such as oral thrush (a fungal infection that occurs in the mouth)

If you’re allergic to penicillin, alternative antibiotics such as tetracycline or erythromycin can be used.

Read more about antibiotics.

Surgery

In some cases, minor surgery may be required to repair the damaged tissue and drain pus out of the abscesses.

Complications of actinomycosis

Abscesses that develop as a result of actinomycosis may form in many parts of your body, including your lungs. They can spread easily from one part of your body to another.

If the original site of the infection is located in the skin of your face, it may spread to nearby parts of your body, such as your scalp or ears.

If the original site of the infection is your mouth, it may spread to your tongue, larynx (voicebox), trachea (windpipe) and salivary glands, and the tubes that connect your throat to your nose.

If the infection spreads to your brain, a brain abscess could develop.

Preventing actinomycosis

Most cases of oral actinomycosis occur as a result of poor dental hygiene. This means practising good dental hygiene is the best way to prevent actinomycosis.

Read about preventing tooth decay and dental health for more information and advice about good oral hygiene practices.

[Original article on NHS Choices website]

How flossing can lower the risk of Pancreatic Cancer by Valerie M. Preston, DDS


 Valerie M. Preston, DDS
Valerie M. Preston, DDS

Pancreatic cancer is a deadly disease that kills at least 96% of the patients who are diagnosed with it. While there are some known ways of preventing it, there is no guarantee that these methods will work 100% of the time. However, studies have shown that your dental health directly affects your vital organs including your pancreas.

In other words, it has been found that you can increase your chances of preventing diseases including cancer of the pancreas by doing something as simple as taking good care of your teeth.

Flossing Lowers Pancreatic Cancer Risks

Flossing offers a lot of benefits for those who do it regularly and correctly. When plaque builds up in between the teeth and gums and no proper cleaning is done, minerals calcify easily, leading to tartar. Tartar increases the level of bacteria inside your mouth because it basically traps them in between your teeth.

If left untreated for a long time, bacteria may spread throughout the tooth root and eventually destroy the external parts of your teeth. This is when more complicated dental conditions occur. Your tooth root houses the pulp chamber, which contains tiny nerves that supply your teeth and gums with blood and nutrients. In short, the bacteria has found a shortcut to your bloodstream.


In the study, which included 405 respondents with pancreatic cancer and 416 healthy individuals, a strong relationship was found between the increased level of antibodies against Porphyromonas gingivalis and pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic cancer is a deadly disease that kills at least 96% of the patients who are diagnosed with it. While there are some known ways of preventing it, there is no guarantee that these methods will work 100% of the time. However, studies have shown that your dental health directly affects your vital organs including your pancreas.

In other words, it has been found that you can increase your chances of preventing diseases including cancer of the pancreas by doing something as simple as taking good care of your teeth.

Flossing Lowers Pancreatic Cancer Risks

Flossing offers a lot of benefits for those who do it regularly and correctly. When plaque builds up in between the teeth and gums and no proper cleaning is done, minerals calcify easily, leading to tartar. Tartar increases the level of bacteria inside your mouth because it basically traps them in between your teeth.

If left untreated for a long time, bacteria may spread throughout the tooth root and eventually destroy the external parts of your teeth. This is when more complicated dental conditions occur. Your tooth root houses the pulp chamber, which contains tiny nerves that supply your teeth and gums with blood and nutrients. In short, the bacteria has found a shortcut to your bloodstream.

In the study, which included 405 respondents with pancreatic cancer and 416 healthy individuals, a strong relationship was found between the increased level of antibodies against Porphyromonas gingivalis and pancreatic cancer.

The author writes “I am Valerie M. Preston, DDS with more than 20 years of experience in the dental industry. I’m an expert in restorative and cosmetic dentistry and a proud member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, the American Dental Association and the North Carolina Dental Society. I own VPreston Dental in Raleigh, NC, a dental clinic known for its spa-like ambiance. For more details, you can check out my website, Facebook and Twitter pages.”