Skip to content

Trust the meat thermometer this Christmas, says safefood

Trust the meat thermometer this Christmas, says safefood

New research from safefood reveals that 78% of people don't know the correct temperature to which to cook their turkey this Christmas.

This Christmas, safefood is encouraging cooks to ‘Trust the Meat Thermometer’ and cook their turkey to 75 degrees C.

Dublin, 7th December 2021: New research from safefood has shown that while ownership of meat thermometers is increasing, over three quarters of people (78%) are not aware of the correct temperature to which turkey should be cooked. A meat thermometer helps to remove the guess work from cooking a turkey, ensuring a tasty and safe meal for all. 1

safefood is launching its annual Christmas campaign to take the stress out of cooking Christmas dinner. This year, the ‘Trust the Meat Thermometer’ campaign is encouraging people to use a meat thermometer when cooking turkey, poultry or any meat product that needs to be cooked all the way through. The safefood website is stuffed with practical food safety tips, guides and recipes and last year more than 150,000 people visited the site between December 24th and 25th for help and advice.

Launching the campaign, Dr Gary Kearney, Director of Food Science, safefood said,

Christmas dinner is one of the most anticipated meals of the year, especially this year. If there's one item to bring to your Christmas kitchen, it's a trusty meat thermometer. Take your turkey out of the oven and pop the thermometer in the thickest part between the leg and breast. When it reaches 75 degrees Celsius 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. Our website has lots of practical tips and advice for this Christmas including how long to defrost a frozen turkey, what size turkey you might need and how to deal safely with leftovers."

Gareth Mullins, Head Chef at The Marker Hotel and safefood's Trust the Meat Thermometer campaign ambassador, said,

I am delighted to be part of the safefood 's campaign this year. Cooking Christmas dinner, for some, 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. So, I’d encourage anyone cooking Christmas dinner this year to buy a meat thermometer. They are affordable, easy to use, and are the fail-safe way of making sure your meat is cooked. Using a meat thermometer couldn't be simpler. I will be posting easy-to-follow videos on my Instagram page so you can see exactly how to use a meat thermometer, as well as some of my tips on making this Christmas dinner the best one ever.”

Among those surveyed for the safefood research, 27% were concerned about undercooking their turkey and being sure it was safe to eat while 7% were concerned about overcooking it and serving a dry turkey. While turkey and ham remain the most commonly cooked meats on Christmas day at 72% and 60% respectively, 17% of people will cook beef, 16% will cook chicken and 8% will enjoy a meat-free Christmas dinner.1

The safefood campaign is also being supported by the Association of Craft Butchers of Ireland, who will be distributing free cooking leaflets and displaying 'Trust the Meat Thermometer' stickers in their meat cabinets during Christmas.”

For more information, visit or follow safefood on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram


For further information or to set up an interview with Gareth Mullins or Dr. Gary Kearney from safefood please contact:

Wilson Hartnell PR 

Katie Drea +353 87 66122 87
Email: [email protected] 

Sally McLoughlin +353 87 97225 49
Email : sally.mcloughlin


Dermot Moriarty +353 86 381 1034
Email: [email protected]

Editor’s Notes

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 focus. 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,

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.

  • For 4-6 people, a 3-4kg turkey should do
  • For 6-8 people, a 4-5kg turkey should do
  • 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

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 pierced between the leg and breast

TIP: Using your leftovers

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

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

Do’s and Don’ts of re-heating!

Remember, if food is already cooked – only re-heat food once. When re-heating food, ensure it is piping hot all the way throughout.

If you’ve any questions about food safety during December, visit our website,

From all at safefood, wishing you and yours a very Happy Christmas.

1. Research commissioned by safefood with Empathy Research was conducted through an online survey across a nationally representative sample of N=1,036 adults aged 18+. The fieldwork was dated 12th – 19th November 2021

Preparing, stuffing and cooking your turkey 

How to check your turkey is cooked properly 

Safefood Logo

Sign up for our family focused healthy eating and food safety news.

Safefood logo

The site content is redirecting to the NI version.