New Chatbot gives Christmas cooking advice 24/7
315,000 people will cook Christmas dinner for the first time this year
safefood teams up with celebrity chef Paul Flynn to launch its Christmas food safety campaign and safefood ChatBot as the ultimate ally for all Christmas Day cooks
Dublin, Thursday 3 December 2020: While we might be experiencing a Christmas like no other this year, one thing that we can rely on is the traditional Christmas dinner. New research commissioned by safefood has shown that for this year, nine percent (9%) of the population or approx. 315,000 people, will cook Christmas dinner for the first time with 13% stating that they feel nervous about it (1, 2). To help easy any Christmas food nerves, safefood has everything needed to cook the perfect, and safe, Christmas day dinner on www.safefood.net/christmas.
safefood’s chatbot is also back this year and is even easier to use. Available on Facebook Messenger, Google Assist and Alexa, the safefood chatbot can answer any questions you might have ahead of Christmas or on the day itself; whether that’s how to prepare and store your turkey, how long to cook it for and what to do with your leftovers.
The research also showed that half of us (51%) will have a smaller gathering on Christmas Day this year with 27% purchasing a turkey crown and 17% purchasing a boned and rolled turkey. However 42% still plan to cook a full turkey (1). The research also highlighted that more than one in ten people are planning to deliver Christmas dinner to loved ones this year (1).
Dr Linda Gordon, Chief Specialist, Food Science safefood commented:
“With so many people cooking Christmas dinner for the first time this year, we really want to help build confidence ahead of what might seem like a big task. The key is to give yourself plenty of time – whether that’s how long to defrost a frozen turkey, how long to cook it for or how long to keep leftovers. Whatever cooking method, timings or recipes you use; you know your turkey is properly cooked when there’s no pink meat in the thickest part of the breast and thigh, the juices run clear and the meat is piping hot throughout.”
“At safefood, we’re here to take the stress out of Christmas for home cooks and our website www.safefood.net/christmas has everything you need; food safety tips, a cooking time calculator for your turkey and tasty leftover recipes so you can make the most of Christmas. The month of December is the busiest month of the year on our website and last year, more than 110,000 people visited our site between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to find great Christmas cooking advice.”
Supporting safefood’s Christmas food safety campaign, acclaimed Chef, Paul Flynn added, “Cooking Christmas dinner can be one of the most stressful meals of the year to prepare and cook so I am delighted to be supporting safefood’s campaign this year to try and make things a bit easier so that you can spend your time with family on Christmas Day. Preparation is key, so try to get vegetables prepared the day before so that your main focus on the day can be the turkey.
A turkey is probably the largest food item that you will cook throughout the year so take the time before Christmas Day to work out how long it will need to cook using the turkey cooking time calculator available at www.safefood.net/christmas or ask safefood’s chatbot via, Facebook Messenger, Google Assist or Alexa.
Once you know the cooking time, you can write a plan with timings for cooking on the big day.” With smaller groups of people coming together on Christmas Day this year, turkey leftovers might be plentiful. As with any cooked leftover, safefood remind that you should cool your leftover turkey and get it in the fridge within two hours of cooking and should be eaten within three days. Research for this year found that 12% of people keep their turkey for longer than this, some up to five days or more which can increase the risk of food poisoning (1).
Leftovers should only be re-heated once so portion any leftover turkey for recipes you want to make. If you want to freeze any leftover meat or poultry, wrap it well and make sure it is stored in a suitable container for freezing. Freeze cooked meat for no more than 6 months approx. This is for quality rather than safety.
The most popular leftover recipes were turkey sandwiches (61%) followed by turkey curry (25%) stir fry (14%) and turkey pie (10%). You can find more great leftover recipes at www.safefood.net/christmas.
Key food safety tips for Christmas day cooking:
- Get your fridge ready – clean it with warm soapy water and make space for your turkey
- If your turkey is frozen, ensure you leave enough time to defrost it prior to cooking allow 24 hours for every 4-5 pounds/1.8-2.2kg. Defrost your turkey on dish or tray on the bottom shelf of the fridge.
- Don’t wash your turkey as this can splash food poisoning bacteria around your kitchen through drips, drops and splashes - proper cooking will kill any germs present
- Raw poultry can contain germs like Salmonella and Campylobacter so it’s important to cook these foods thoroughly. Visit www.safefood.net or use safefood’s chatbot to find out the cooking time suitable for your turkey size.
- For stuffed turkeys, build in extra cooking time to ensure the centre is thoroughly cooked. Ideally, cook your stuffing in a separate dish. safefood's Turkey Cooking Time calculator on their website can provide specific advice.
- Remember to check that the turkey is cooked at the end of the cooking period by pricking the thickest part of the joint with a skewer and making sure that the juices run clear, the turkey is piping hot the whole way through and there is no pink meat left and if you have a meat thermometer the thickest part of the turkey should read 75ºC when it is safe to eat.
For further information or to request an interview, please contact:
Sally McLoughlin, Wilson Hartnell
Tel: +353 1 669 0030 Mob: +353 87 972 2549
Dermot Moriarty/Ciara O’Connor safefood
Tel: +353 1 448 0600 Mob: +353 87 437 2080 (Ciara) Mob: +353 86 381 1034 (Dermot)
About the Research
The research quoted in this campaign was conducted by Empathy Research. The research was conducted through an online survey across a nationally representative sample of n=1,011 adults aged 18+. Quotas were placed on gender, age, social class and region with weighting applied to ensure final data was representative of these quotas. Research was conducted amongst members of Empathy Research’s proprietary research panel. Fieldwork was conducted from 20th – 24th November 2020. The sample size of n=1,011 results in a margin of error of +/- 3.1%.
Talking turkey: Christmas dinner tips and myth busters
Christmas dinner is the largest (and sometimes most stressful) meal of the year that many of us will cook with turkey as the star. Getting it just right can bring a fair amount of pressure whether you’re a novice cook or more experienced. Because food safety never takes a day off, the following tips and myth busters will help make sure your Christmas dinner is delicious and safe to serve.
TIP: Get your fridge festive fresh Getting your fridge clean for Christmas and ready for turkey is essential. Your fridge should be given a spring clean every 3-4 months while keeping on top of spillages and regularly wiping down shelves. Remember to store your turkey on the bottom shelf so any drips won’t land on food spreading germs and leaving them unsafe to eat. You should also ensure any foods past their use-by date are thrown out.
Myth: Do I need to wash my turkey before cooking it?
NO! PLEASE DON’T! Rinsing turkey (or chicken or meat) is a definite no as this can spread food poisoning bugs around your kitchen. Water that splashes from rinsing a turkey can spread its germs up to a metre (or an arm’s length) around your sink. That means that bacteria can mingle with ready to eat foods, kitchen utensils like chopping boards and anything else that's in the vicinity. Proper cooking of your turkey will kill any food poisoning bacteria.
MYTH: Stuffed turkeys cook in the same time as unstuffed turkeys
FALSE! You need to give stuffed turkeys more cooking time! For stuffed turkeys cooked in a fan oven, you should allow extra cooking time as safefood research has shown that when a turkey is stuffed in the body cavity, it is the centre of the stuffing that is slowest to cook. With stuffed turkeys, it is essential you check the stuffing itself is piping hot all the way through, as well as making sure the meat at the thickest part of the breast is cooked thoroughly before serving. Try not to overstuff the turkey; use a maximum of 10% of the weight of the bird in stuffing for example no more than 500g of stuffing for a 5kg turkey. To help with this, we have a Turkey Cooking Time calculator on our website, www.safefood.net.
MYTH: The bigger the turkey, the better!
False! Only buy the turkey you need to avoid unnecessary food waste. If you’re unsure, ask your butcher and think about how many people you’re cooking for (children eat less than adults) and whether you want any leftovers. o For 4-6 people, a 3-4kg turkey should do o For 6-8 people, a 4-5kg turkey should do o For 8-10 people, a 5-6 kg turkey should do
MYTH: You can cook your turkey from frozen!
False! Give yourself enough time to defrost your turkey.
For a frozen turkey or any frozen poultry, the safest and recommended way to defrost it is to place it on a dish or tray on the bottom shelf of your fridge. Remember to allow 24 hours for every 4-5 pounds/1.8-2.2kg. Give yourself plenty of time; it can take up to 3 days to fully defrost a frozen 7.5kg/15lb turkey, so you may need to take it out to defrost on December 22nd. You’ll know it’s fully defrosted when:
- The body is soft
- The legs can be moved and
- There are no ice crystals inside the cavity
Once thoroughly defrosted, a previously frozen turkey cooks the same way as a fresh turkey.
TIP- Cooking Calculations Don’t leave your turkey cooking time to chance! Raw poultry and meat can contain germs like Salmonella and Campylobacter and it’s important to cook these foods thoroughly. Preheat your oven to 180° (Fan Assisted) and cover the turkey with tinfoil during cooking as this helps it to cook more evenly and gives a more “juicy” product. The turkey should be basted every hour during cooking. (The tinfoil can be removed for the last half hour to finally brown the skin).
You can find cooking times for your turkey size at www.safefood.net or by asking our chatbot – you can find it on Facebook Messenger, Google Assist and Alexa.
TIP: How to Carve
Remember, do not rush to carve the stuffed cooked turkey straight out of the oven One way of making sure that the stuffing is properly cooked, without risking overcooking the meat, is to remove the turkey from the oven when the meat is fully cooked and leave it to rest for 30 minutes, loosely covered in tinfoil.
MYTH: You know your turkey is done when the cooking time is up
FALSE! You need to check it as follows:
Using a clean fork or skewer, pierce the thickest part of the breast and thigh. You’ll know it’s cooked when:
- It’s piping hot throughout
- Its juices run clear
- There is no pink meat left
- Any stuffing is piping hot throughout
If you have a meat thermometer the thickest part of the turkey should read 75ºC when it is safe to eat.
Do’s and Don’ts of re-heating!
TIP: Leftovers are not for life! Cover any leftovers and place in the fridge within two hours of cooking. Ensure any meat is cooled as quickly as possible – cutting it into pieces will help with this. Once in the fridge, any leftovers should be eaten within three days. For more information on leftover recipes and inspiration, visit www.safefood.net/christmas
Remember, if food is already cooked – only re-heat food once. When re-heating food, ensure it is piping hot all the way throughout.
Tip: Christmas does not have to mean excess If you’re looking for healthier options at Christmas, you can also:
- Trim the skin from your turkey or fat from your ham
- Try a breadcrumb, nut and seed stuffing instead of sausage
- Roast potatoes in a little vegetable oil as a healthy alternative to butter.
- Steaming vegetables instead of boiling or roasting them
TIP: Chill that meat! If freezing leftover meat or poultry, wrap well and make sure it is stored in a suitable container for freezing. Freeze cooked meat for no more than 6 months approx. This is for quality rather than safety
If you’ve any questions about food safety during December, why not ask our chatbot which you can find on Facebook Messenger, Alexa or Google Home.
Or just visit our website, www.safefood.net/christmas
From all at safefood, wishing you and yours a very Happy Christmas!