Good company, Christmas crackers, roast turkey and all the trimmings are the usual ingredients for a great meal during the festive season.
And Ribble Valley residents are being given some top tips to ensure food poisoning does not ruin their festive celebrations.
Nearly a third of Britons eat Christmas dinner with more than seven guests and 45 per cent spend over five hours preparing and cooking the festive meal.
But the festive period also provides challenges when it comes to avoiding food poisoning.
Cooking for more people means handling different defrosting and cooking times for food, ensuring large amounts of food are stored safely and leftovers safe to eat.
Eamonn Roberts, Ribble Valley Borough Council’s senior environmental health officer, said: “If you are having family over for Christmas, there is a lot to think about – from present shopping to where everyone’s going to sleep.
“In that long list of things to consider, it is important that food safety isn’t overlooked, so make sure you follow some straightforward steps to ensure Christmas isn’t remembered for all the wrong reasons.”
In association with the Food Standards Agency, Ribble Valley Borough Council has produced the following festive food tips to ensure everyone has a happy and healthy Christmas:
l Start thinking about the meals you would like to eat over Christmas, what you will need to buy and when, and write a shopping list;
l Cold temperatures slow the growth of germs, so make sure your fridge is running at the correct temperature – below 5°C – and not overcrowded;
l To prevent cross-contamination, store raw turkey (and other raw foods) separately from cooked or ready to eat food, covered and chilled on the bottom shelf of the fridge;
l If you are using a frozen turkey, make sure you check how long it will take to defrost safely according to the packaging instructions;
l To prevent the spread of food poisoning germs like campylobacter, make sure you wash everything that has touched raw turkey, such as hands, utensils and work surfaces with soap and hot water;
l Don’t wash raw turkey under the tap, as this can splash germs around your kitchen;
l Check the turkey is cooked thoroughly – there should be no pink meat in the thickest parts and it should be steaming hot with juices running clear.
And if you are eating out this Christmas, remember all food premises in Ribble Valley, including restaurants, cafes, takeaways, sandwich shops, food retailers and supermarkets, have star ratings from five to zero for food hygiene.
They are assessed on a wide range of criteria, such as the preparation, cooking, re-heating, cooling and storage of food, as well as effective pest control and waste disposal; whether employees are suitably supervised, instructed or trained in food hygiene; and the premises in a good state of repair.
The scheme, called the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme, enables consumers to make informed choices about where they buy or eat food.
Mr Roberts added: “Consumers spend a significant amount of money on food during the festive season and this scheme enables them to know how a food outlet is performing against required standards of hygiene, and therefore make informed choices about where they buy or consume food.
“One thing guaranteed to ruin Christmas is food poisoning, so whether you are eating in or out follow our festive food tips, or check the establishment’s food hygiene rating.”
Food hygiene ratings are displayed on distinctive green and black stickers displayed on windows and doors or can be found online at www.ribblevalley.gov.uk.