Go online for the tastiest turkey

Food safety promotion group safefood has launched new guidelines on cooking times for a safe and tasty turkey, with turkey cooking time calculator available online or via text to ensure your festive dinner is roasted to perfection.

The group has teamed up with award-winning chef Neven Maguire to launch the guidelines for electric, fan assisted ovens to produce the safest and tastiest turkey this Christmas.

Consumers can visit the safefood website www.safefood.eu or text ‘stuffed’ or ‘unstuffed’, plus the weight of their turkey in kilogrammes, to 51500 to get the recommended cooking time for their turkey.

“Christmas dinner is a really important occasion and turkey often takes centre stage on the day,” said safefood microbiologist Dr David McCleery. “Our latest research has revealed that while 82 per cent of people in the Republic of Ireland will buy a turkey to cook this Christmas, just 28 per cent use a time calculation based on the weight of the turkey to estimate the cooking time. Our unique research on the optimum cooking times for turkeys will help to ease the stress of preparing a turkey dinner, ensuring the meal is memorable for all the right reasons.”

Dr McCleery warned that improper cooking can lead to the spread of harmful bacteria, which could cause serious illness. “Regardless of what cooking method, timings or recipe you use, always ensure your turkey is properly cooked by checking that there is no pink meat in the thickest part of the breast and thigh, the juices run clear and the meat is piping hot throughout,” he advised.

Previous safefood consumer research revealed that six in 10 people on the island of Ireland stuff the turkey cavity and almost a quarter (23 per cent ) stuff the neck. The stuffing should be loosely packed in the cavity and be no more than 10 per cent of the weight of the bird.

Consumers should also check that the stuffing in cavity-stuffed turkeys, is piping hot at the centre as this is the slowest point to cook in stuffed turkeys. Safefood’s helpline, website, and SMS service can advise consumers on how much stuffing to use based on the weight of their turkey, and provide the recommended cooking time.

“Christmas dinner is undoubtedly one of the most special meals of the year, but preparing a tasty and nutritious meal for family and friends is pointless if the proper food hygiene practices are ignored,” said Neven Maguire. “Any leftovers should be cooled and refrigerated within two hours of cooking and eaten within three days, making sure they are piping hot and reheated only once. My recipe for a turkey and leek pie is a delicious way to use up the leftovers and is available on the safefood website.”

Ten per cent of people in the Republic of Ireland who buy a turkey get their cooking advice from their butcher, and safefood leaflets including the new guidelines are now available in butchers or from the safefood helpline and website. Consumers should remember to thoroughly wash their hands and any surfaces that come into contact with raw turkey, and ensure any frozen turkey is thoroughly defrosted before cooking, so that Christmas dinner will be a safe and enjoyable experience.

Further food safety information, including the recommended cooking times and temperatures for gas and non-fan assisted electric ovens, can be found on www.safefood.eu

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