Top tips for safely cooking that Christmas bird

editorial image

The festive feast is one of the highlights of Christmas — but get it wrong, and it could mean a less than merry Christmas.

According to the Food Standards Agency (FSA), more cases of food poisoning occur in December than at any other time of year, as a result of undercooked poultry.

Les Davidson, meat and fish specialist at Waitrose in Newton Mearns, recommends reading cooking instructions carefully before stepping foot near the oven.

Les told The Extra: “Every bird is different, and the instructions are tailored to suit — so always read the pack carefully, and plan your cooking times accordingly.”

The meat counter man has a range of turkeys on offer this Christmas - but also recommends thinking outside the box when it comes to the dinner on the big day.

He added: “Waitrose owns its own farms, and all our meat is traceable.

“The result is that we have beautiful Orkney salmon with fish kettles available to rent for free, or rib of Angus beef — if customers come in and talk through their preferences with us, we can recommend what to cook, and which stuffings and sides will match.”

If the traditional turkey is on the cards, then there’s also advice on using leftovers without risking food poisoning.

Bob Martin, FSA food safety expert, explained: “Using leftovers is a good way of making your Chrstimas food go further.

“However, unless you’re careful, there’s a chance you can risk food poisoning by not storing or handling leftovers properly.”

Top tips for preparing and storing this year’s turkey and trimmings include steering clear of the sink. Many cooks wash raw poultry before cooking it, but experts say that this risks splashing harmful bacteria onto worktops and utensils - and cold water won’t kill germs lurking regardless.

Always check your cooking times according to the size of your bird, and ensure that the thickest parts have gone from pink to white or brown, with the juices running clear.

When the feast is finished for the day, leftovers should be covered and stored in the fridge, and eaten within two days.

For advice on how to use up those Christmas scraps within two days, visit .