For many people, it wouldn’t be Christmas without turkey. But cooking for a special occasion can be a lot of pressure, from planning the defrosting and cooking times, to storing food safely.

Raw and undercooked turkey can cause food poisoning and have serious consequences especially for children, people already in ill-health and older people. Any bout of food poisoning is unpleasant, and it is particularly miserable to be ill over Christmas. 

Christmas is also a significant period of food waste, with many hundreds of thousands of tonnes of edible poultry, carrots and potatoes thrown away each year in the UK, say Love Food Hate Waste.

Maintaining good food hygiene when storing, cooking, reusing and freezing food will help keep your Christmas safe and minimise food waste over the festive period.

The Food Standards Agency [FSA] recommends remembering the "four Cs" of Cleaning, Cooking, Chilling and avoiding Cross-contamination.

The Food Standards Agency gives advice on how to prepare and cook your Christmas meal in a hygienic and safe way, including how to safely store, defrost, prepare, cook and use left-overs from your turkey.

East Devon District Council’s page on food hygiene and safety gives guidance to food businesses on how to comply with the law, plus advice for consumers about food issues.

Food poisoning is an illness caused by eating contaminated food. In most cases the food is contaminated by bacteria such as Salmonella or Escherichia coli (E. coli), or a virus such as norovirus. It's not usually serious and most people get better within a few days without treatment, but it can be more serious in pregnant women, babies and young children, older people, and people with a long-term condition or a weak immune system.

The NHS website gives information about food poisoning including signs & symptoms and what to do.

Disclaimer: If you are worried about specific health issues, please seek professional medical advice.