Christmas is one of the biggest celebration that brings thousands of families together for a meal. Unfortunately this festive time of the year can also turn into bad memories. This is because the main Christmas ingredients are significantly more vulnerable to food poisoning than the average. For example, ingredients such as crustaceans, meat, fish or foie gras are qualified as highly sensible to food poisoning.
It has been shown that the two main ‘Christmas poisonous gifts’ are food and carbon monoxide poisoning. These two are often triggered through viruses (eg. Hepatitis), mycotoxin & paralytic shelfish poisoning toxin in fish, or bacteria. Typically, a poisoned customer will experience undesirable effects such as vomiting, diarrhea, nausea or fever.
Here are some food safety tips to help you deliver Christmas magic to your customers through your recipes.
General tips to prevent Christmas food poisoning
1 – Observe cold chain integrity very strictly
2 – Emphasise hand washing among your staff and the use of clean utensils
3 – Make sure you cook meat long enough at the right temperature
4 – Systematically check expiration dates
5 – Avoid using inflated cans or ones with a weird smell
Tame your turkey to avoid poisoning incidents at your premise
It is worth noting that some ingredients present high risk of food poisoning if you mishandle them. For instance, turkey is England’s favourite Christmas dish. However, you must carefully handle it to avoid food poisoning. Firstly, you must not wash your turkey (or any poultry). If you wash your turkey you are more likely to spread germs onto worktops, chopping boards, dishes and utensils. In a similar vein, if you are using a frozen turkey, make sure you defrost it thoroughly in the fridge. This process can take up to 48 hours to defrost completely.
In addition, we would like to remind you to beware of cross contamination in your fridge. By simply placing your turkey at the bottom of you fridge, you can ensure that no blood or liquid from the turkey drop on other ingredients. Finally, if you are planning to stuff your turkey, we advise you to cook your stuffing in a separate tin so that it will be entirely cooked, and so will your turkey.
The world is your oyster: handle it carefully!
Oysters are another popular Christmas treat but unfortunately this crustacean is often subject to food poisoning.
Our first piece of advice to avoid food poisoning when cooking oysters is to maintain traceability. All packages of live oysters must be accompanied by a dated health/ID mark on an indelible, water resistant label. This label should show the identification number of the establishment from which they may have come, ideally a batch number, date of packaging and declaration that animals must be alive when sold. Keep the health mark details for at least 60 days in case this information is needed. The easiest way to do this is to affix the label into your diary on the day of delivery. In addition, you must store your oysters under refrigeration and they must be served within three days.
Finally, we strongly advise restaurants to serve oysters as soon as they are opened. If you are not sure whether an oyster is still alive you have two options:
– You can jab the edge of it to see if it retracts/close
– You can add a drop of lemon on the oyster – the sourness of the lemon will make the oyster respond and retract if it’s alive
If you have any questions or would like further information, please feel free to leave a comment below.