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Christmas in July: Your food safety guide

Living in the Southern Hemisphere means we usually get jolly and festive during the hot Summer months, missing out on the cosy fun enjoyed by our Northern Hemisphere counterparts. Maybe that’s why Christmas in July is a such a fun tradition for us. We can pop on an awful festive jumper, whip up some (cooked) eggnog and sing carols by the fire.

While the colder weather does afford us a little more tolerance when it comes to the temperature danger zone, it also brings its own wintery risks, like cold and flu. So, let’s talk Christmas in July food safety, so you can enjoy your festivities without making yourself or anyone else sick.

Our top tips for Christmas in July food safety

  • If friends and family are helping out by doing some of the cooking, arrange for them to travel with the lower risk foods, like the Christmas pudding, shortbread, mince pies and other baked goods. Cook high-risk foods like any meat, poultry, eggs, dairy and seafood dishes on site.
  • Put your drinks on ice rather than in the fridge. Avoid the constant opening of the fridge doors by clearing out drinks into a cooler. This will help your fridge to run appropriately at its ideal temperature.
  • Don’t leave perishable snacks and platters out in the temperature danger zone for more than a couple of hours. Replenish things like dips, cheese and meat as needed, keeping them refrigerated in the meantime.
  • Throw out any leftovers which have been in the temperature danger zone for more than a couple of hours. If in doubt, throw it out!
  • Don’t leave perishable nibbles like dips and soft cheeses out in the temperature danger zone for too long – instead, divide them into small amounts and replenish when needed.
  • Cook your turkey and other meats all the way to the centre, this means the juices will run clear. You could also use a thermometer to make sure.
  • Before and during food preparation and cooking, ensure all your surfaces and utensils are clean. Also wash your hands thoroughly and frequently, using a clean cloth or paper towel to dry.
  • Use separate utensils for raw meats and cooked meats and other ready to eat foods, including knives and chopping boards.
  • If you’re cooking a whole from-frozen turkey be mindful about allowing enough time to defrost the bird in the fridge – it can take several days. Also, plan for the hours of cooking it will need.
  • Prepare perishable foods as close to the time of eating as possible.
  • Cool your leftovers quickly by separating into smaller, shallow containers and placing them in the fridge as soon as possible.
  • Plan your space carefully and thoroughly in advance. Take into account how much room you have in your refrigerator and if you’ll need to use iced coolers as well.
  • Be efficient with your menu and consider the need to store leftovers in refrigeration.
  • Keep guests who have or might have a cold or flu out of the kitchen. Provide any under the weather guests with tissues to use and a bin outside of the kitchen to dispose of them. Ask all your guests to frequently wash their hands to avoid contagious germs spreading.
  • Although the weather is colder, avoid leaving your festive food shopping in the car for long. Drive straight home and store correctly.
  • Christmas ham makes for great leftovers, but you need to ensure you’re storing them correctly. Check out this article.
  • Thinking of making eggnog? Make sure you’re avoiding food poisoning by cooking your egg base thoroughly. Don’t make the mistake of thinking adding alcohol will make the eggnog safe, cooking is the only way to make sure. Try this recipe.