10 ways to prevent food poisoning this Christmas

How to avoid food poisoning this Holiday Season
How to avoid food poisoning this Holiday Season

10 ways to prevent food poisoning

The UK has more than 500,000 reported cases of people experiencing food poisoning a year, according to the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

If you’ve ever had food poisoning, you’ll know how unpleasant it can be, even for a fit and healthy person. Food poisoning can sometimes cause serious illness and even death.

Most people assume that food poisoning comes from restaurants, cafes and fast food outlets, but according to the FSA, you’re just as likely to get ill from food prepared at home.

Follow these tips to reduce the risk of food poisoning at home.

Wash your hands

Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water, and dry them before handling food, after handling raw foods – including meat, fish, eggs and vegetables – and after touching the bin, going to the toilet, blowing your nose, or touching animals, including pets.

Wash worktops

Wash worktops before and after preparing food, particularly after they’ve been touched by raw meat, including poultry, raw eggs, fish and vegetables. You don’t need to use antibacterial sprays: hot, soapy water is fine.

Wash dishcloths

Wash dishcloths and tea towels regularly and let them dry before you use them again. Dirty, damp cloths are the perfect place for germs to breed.

Use separate chopping boards

Use separate chopping boards for raw food and ready-to-eat food. Raw foods can contain harmful bacteria that spreads very easily to anything they touch, including other foods, worktops, chopping boards and knives.

Keep raw meat separate

It’s especially important to keep raw meat away from ready-to-eat foods, such as salad, fruit and bread. This is because these foods won’t be cooked before you eat them, so any bacteria that gets on to the foods won’t be killed.

Store raw meat on the bottom shelf

Always cover raw meat and store it on the bottom shelf of the fridge, where it can’t touch other foods or drip onto them.

Cook food thoroughly

Cook food thoroughly and check that it’s steaming hot all the way through. Make sure poultry, pork, burgers, sausages and kebabs are cooked until steaming hot, with no pink meat inside. Don’t wash raw meat including chicken and turkey before cooking, as this risks spreading bacteria around your kitchen.

Freezing raw chicken reduces levels of Campylobacter but does not eliminate it completely. The safest way to kill all traces of Campylobacter is by cooking chicken thoroughly.

Keep your fridge below 5C

Keep your fridge temperature below 5C. By keeping food cold, you stop food poisoning bugs growing.

Cool leftovers quickly

If you have cooked food that you’re not going to eat straight away, cool it as quickly as possible (within 90 minutes) and store it in the fridge or freezer. Use any leftovers from the fridge within two days.

Respect ‘use by’ dates

Don’t eat food that’s past its ‘use by’ date even if it looks and smells okay. ‘Use by’ dates are based on scientific tests that show how quickly harmful bugs can develop in the packaged food.

Read more about food poisoning in Health A-Z.

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.

Abdominal pain – what are the signs, symptoms, cause and treatments of a stomach ache

A stomach ache is a term often used to refer to cramps or a dull ache in the tummy (abdomen). It’s usually short-lived and is often not serious.

Stomach ache and abdominal pain - your guide
Stomach ache and abdominal pain – your guide

Severe abdominal pain is a greater cause for concern. If it starts suddenly and unexpectedly, it should be regarded as a medical emergency, especially if the pain is concentrated in a particular area.

Call your GP as soon as possible or go to your nearest hospital accident and emergency (A&E) department if this is the case.

If you feel pain in the area around your ribs, read about chest pain for information and advice.

Stomach cramps with bloating

Stomach cramps with bloating are often caused by trapped wind. This is a very common problem that can be embarrassing, but is easily dealt with. Your chemist will be able to recommend a product which can be bought over the counter to treat the problem.

Sudden stomach cramps with diarrhoea

If your stomach cramps have started recently and you also have diarrhoea, the cause may be a tummy bug (gastroenteritis). This means you have a viral or bacterial infection of the stomach and bowel, which should get better without treatment after a few days.

Gastroenteritis may be caused by coming into close contact with someone who’s infected, or by eating contaminated food (food poisoning).

If you have repeated bouts of stomach cramps and diarrhoea, you may have a long-term condition, such as irritable bowel syndrome.

Sudden severe abdominal pain

If you have sudden agonising pain in a particular area of your tummy, call your GP immediately or go to your nearest A&E department. It may be a sign of a serious problem that could rapidly get worse without treatment.

Serious causes of sudden severe abdominal pain include:

appendicitis – the swelling of the appendix (a finger-like pouch connected to the large intestine), which causes agonising pain in the lower right-hand side of your abdomen, and means your appendix will need to be removed
a bleeding or perforated stomach ulcer – a bleeding, open sore in the lining of your stomach or duodenum (the first part of the small intestine)
acute cholecystitis – inflammation of the gallbladder, which is often caused by gallstones; in many cases, your gallbladder will need to be removed
kidney stones – small stones may be passed out in your urine, but larger stones may block the kidney tubes, and you’ll need to go to hospital to have them broken up
diverticulitis – inflammation of the small pouches in the bowel that sometimes requires treatment with antibiotics in hospital

If your GP suspects you have one of these conditions, they may refer you to hospital immediately.

Sudden and severe pain in your abdomen can also sometimes be caused by an infection of the stomach and bowel (gastroenteritis). It may also be caused by a pulled muscle in your abdomen or by an injury.

Long-term or recurring abdominal pain

See your GP if you or your child have persistent or repeated abdominal pain. The cause is often not serious and can be managed.

Possible causes in adults include:

irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) – a common condition that causes bouts of stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhoea or constipation; the pain is often relieved when you go to the toilet
inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) – long-term conditions that involve inflammation of the gut, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis
a urinary tract infection that keeps returning – in these cases, you will usually also experience a burning sensation when you urinate
constipation
period pain – painful muscle cramps in women that are linked to the menstrual cycle
other stomach-related problems – such as a stomach ulcer, heartburn and acid reflux, or gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining)

Possible causes in children include:

constipation
a urinary tract infection that keeps returning
heartburn and acid reflux
abdominal migraines – recurrent episodes of abdominal pain with no identifiable cause

 

[Original article on NHS Choices website]

Food poisoning – How to prevent a holiday nightmare!

Food poisoning can ruin a normal day, especially a holiday. Tune into our live show to make sure you are covered for all unfortunate eventualities this holiday season



Show date: 21stMay 2015

Show time:  3pm

Food poisoning ?
Food poisoning ?

Food poisoning on your getaway? How do you ward off the infamous “Delhi Belly”? With holiday season just round the corner, research has revealed that a staggering amount of holiday makers are affected by food poisoning- leaving people hitting the bathroom instead of the beaches.

Joining us for this special live and interactive show is travel expert Simon Calder, Katherine Allen from travel specialist law firm Slater and Gordon and a special guest case study .


Our experts will be discussing a range of topics from which countries rank the dodgiest destinations in the world to how to guard off getting sick abroad.  If the worst scenario does present itself, and your travel insurance doesn’t cover you, what are your options? What evidence would you need to collect? Simon Calder will be sharing his tips on how to make sure you are looking out for any loop holes when it comes to booking your trip.

Whether you’re exploring the city or lounging on the beach, watch our show to make that you experience the best but are completely prepared for the worst- send your questions in now or during the live show.