Fear gobbles confidence as 78% unaware of right way to cook turkey

Safefood advises use of meat thermometer and great care to ensure bird ready to eat

When the temperature in the thickest part of the turkey between the leg and breast reaches 75 degrees, it’s cooked and ready to eat.

When the temperature in the thickest part of the turkey between the leg and breast reaches 75 degrees, it’s cooked and ready to eat.

 

It is the meat many Irish people love to hate but turkey will remain the centre piece on most plates on December 25th although more than one in four people are worried about the health consequences of cooking it wrongly.

According to research from Safefood published on Wednesday morning, 72 per cent of people will serve turkey as part of their Christmas dinner this year although 78 per cent of them are not aware of the right temperature a turkey needs to be cooked to.

Launching its annual Talking Turkey campaign, the food safety watchdog encouraged people to invest in a meat thermometer, a cheap and easy-to-use device it said would take the guesswork out of the most wonderful meal of the year.

“Christmas dinner is one of the most anticipated meals of the year, especially this year,” said Safefood’s Dr Gary Kearney. “If there’s one item to bring to your Christmas kitchen, it’s a trusty meat thermometer.”

75 degrees

He said that when the temperature in the thickest part of the turkey between the leg and breast reaches 75 degrees, it’s cooked and ready to eat.

“For poultry, like turkey and chicken and other meats that need to be cooked all the way through, it is important they are cooked until piping hot, with no pink meat and the juices running clear. Using a meat thermometer adds an extra layer of reassurance,” he said.

It would appear people need that reassurance with 27 per cent of those surveyed for the Safefood research admitting they were concerned about undercooking their turkey and being sure it was safe to eat while 7 per cent were concerned about overcooking it and serving a dry turkey.

‘Stressful meal’

While turkey and ham remain the most commonly cooked meats on Christmas Day at 72 per cent and 60 per cent respectively, 17 per cent of people will cook beef, 16 per cent will cook chicken and 8 per cent will enjoy a meat-free Christmas dinner.

The Marker Hotel’s executive chef Gareth Mullins, in his role as Safefood’s Trust the Meat Thermometer campaign ambassador, said that for some people cooking Christmas dinner “can be the most stressful meal of the year as you want it to be as delicious as possible but with so many ingredients and different timings to manage it can be tricky”.

Safefood also highlighted some of the myths surrounding turkeys. It said that people should never rinse or wash turkeys “as this can spread food poisoning bugs around your kitchen”. It also said that stuffed turkeys take longer to cook than unstuffed ones and warned that turkeys cannot be cooked from frozen.