Coleshill Catering

Coleshill Catering have over 100 years combined experience in the hospitality industry

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Christmas Catering Advice

This blog post was inspired by a document issued by West Wiltshire District Council Environmental Health Officers which warned householders to take proper care when cooking their Christmas dinner, or they could end up giving family or friend’s food poisoning. “Failing to do things thoroughly and take all the necessary precautions could be the difference between a good Christmas and a trip to your GP,” said David Bardwell, Principal Environmental Health Officer, West Wiltshire District Council. As you would expect we take food hygiene extremely seriously at Coleshill Catering , so I thought it would be useful just to recap the correct way of prepping and cooking turkeys, chickens and other types of fowl as so many of us will be doing in a couple of weeks’ time.


If your turkey is a frozen one the safest way to defrost it is in the fridge or failing that in a cool area. Clearly it’s going to take longer in a fridge but harmful bacteria can breed at normal room temperature.

If your turkey is a frozen one the safest way to defrost it is in the fridge or failing that in a cool area. Clearly it’s going to take longer in a fridge but harmful bacteria can breed at normal room temperature.




Weight Thawing in fridge:  Thawing in cool area:
2lbs/900g 24 hours3lbs/1.35kg 30 hours 4lbs/1.8kg 36 hours 7lbs/3.2kg 48 hours 13lbs/6kg 60 hours 18lbs/8kg three days 20lbs+/9kg+ four days 4lbs/1.8kg 15 hours7lbs/3.2kg 18 hours 13lbs/6kg 24 hours 18lbs/8kg 27 hours 20lbs+/9kg+ 36 hours

When did you last check your fridge temperature? It should be operating at between 0 0 C and 5 0 C Use a fridge thermometer to check. Ensure the bird is thawed in a tray to catch any drips and that it is placed on the lowest shelf to avoid any possible contamination of any high risk food. Always read and follow the instructions on the wrapping, but here is a more general guide to thawing times:

Some other key points to observe: Remove giblets from inside the bird as soon as you are able to do so. Check that it has thawed properly by making sure no ice crystals are inside. Cook stuffing separately or stuff neck end only. Do not fill the body cavity. Do not stuff large birds at all. Clean, sterilise or disinfect work surfaces immediately and wash hands. Never prepare cooked meat on an uncleaned surface previously used for raw meat. Store raw and cooked foods separately in the fridge with cooked always above raw. Once cooled, cooked birds should be stored in the fridge. If you are reheating, do make sure the meat is hot all way through. Do not reheat meat more than once.

Catering from home for large functions If you are planning a large party or supplying food for a community event, extra care needs to be taken in the preparation and storage of food. If not, the risk of food poisoning is increased. Here are some guides to help you with safe preparation:

  • ™ Don’t make food too far in advance.
  • ™ Make sure there is enough space in the fridge or freezer.
  • ™ Enlist help of neighbours or friends to increase capacity.
  • ™ Don’t leave food standing for several hours in a warm room.
  • ™ Take special care with vulnerable groups such as young children and the elderly.
  • ™ Proper temperature control is essential.
  • ™ Make sure perishable food such as cold meats, quiches and desserts are kept chilled.
  •  Always store cooked food above raw food as the raw food may drip.
  • ™ Make sure food is cooked thoroughly. Large joints and whole birds need special care.
  •  If reheating, only do this once and make sure it is hot all the way through.
  • ™ Keep hot food hot, and cold food cold.
  •  Always wash your hands before touching foods and after handling raw foods.

At Christmas we often do a lot more food preparation and cooking than normal, often while juggling a lot of other tasks and time commitments, or even dare I say it under the influence of a drink or two! So it is really important that you do things right and not take short cuts in your food preparation and storage. The consequences of food poising can be very serious indeed. So get it right and you and your guests will, I’m sure, have a very happy Christmas time.

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