How To Defrost Your Turkey Safely (And Avoid Food Poisoning)

Millions of people have been defrosting their turkey at Christmas incorrectly, prompting a need for - wait or it - National Defrost Your Turkey Day.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) found 69% of Britons who buy a frozen turkey for their Christmas dinner - almost 11 million people - leave it in an unsafe place, including the garage, to defrost.

The FSA said just one in four of those who bought a frozen turkey safely defrosted it in the fridge, leaving the rest putting themselves and their families at risk of food poisoning.

The agency warned that incorrect thawing provided a platform for bacteria such as campylobacter to spread, leaving a turkey dinner that "looks and tastes delicious but contains a hidden risk that can't be seen, tasted or smelled".

More than 3,000 cases of campylobacter were confirmed in England and Wales between late December 2013 and the start of January, according to FSA figures.

It has declared today the national day to begin defrosting turkeys, reminding cooks that a typical large turkey weighing 11kg will take two days to thaw.

FSA head of foodborne disease Kevin Hargin said: "We all love our turkey dinner at Christmas and this year should be no exception.

"It's the little things you do that can make a real difference. So if you make sure that your turkey is defrosted safely and in good time, you can enjoy your meal happily and safely."

The FSA advises that those preparing a turkey from frozen should follow the retailer's recommended defrosting time and defrost the bird in the fridge if possible or somewhere cool to slow the growth of germs.

The turkey should be covered while defrosting, either within the original packaging or in a container to hold any thawing juices at the bottom of the fridge to avoid cross-contamination.

It warns that turkey should be defrosted thoroughly as otherwise it may not cook evenly and harmful bacteria could survive the cooking process.

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