EIGHTY per cent of people wash their turkeys before cooking them – significantly increasing the risk of food poisoning, according to a new survey by the Food Standards Agency.
The survey, which looked into the eating habits of UK consumers at Christmas, found that women over the age of 45 were the most frequent turkey-washing offenders.
The agency warns against washing meat because harmful bacteria can easily splash from raw meat and poultry to worktops, chopping boards, dishes and utensils. Germs that cause food poisoning can also linger on surfaces for days.
Judith Hilton, head of microbiological safety at the agency, 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.”
Results from the survey show that 17% of people aren’t sure how to tell when their turkey is cooked and, although formal reported incidents are fairly low, 2% of people think they have suffered from festive food poisoning in the past five years.
The agency 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.
Celebrity chefs Gary Rhodes and Ainsley Harriott are featuring in the agency’s adverts this year to help people avoid serving up food poisoning.
For more information on how to prepare your Christmas dinner safely, visit eatwell.gov.uk or email our turkey experts at email@example.com.