With families across Scotland preparing for their annual Christmas feast – NHS 24 is reminding people to be vigilant about food safety.
The call comes as the Telehealth and Telecare organisation run their annual Be Health-Wise This Winter campaign.
The advice is being issued as NHS 24 gears up for one of the busiest times of year for answering medical calls.
Professor George Crooks is NHS 24’s Medical Director said: “The majority of us will have turkey on the menu this Christmas so it is important food safety is on your mind.
“When defrosting your turkey it’s important to note that incorrect thawing provides a way for bacteria to spread. This leaves you with a turkey dinner that looks delicious, but contains a food poisoning risk that cannot be seen, tasted or smelled.
“No one likes to feel unwell, especially during the holidays, so cooking food properly is important. It is also a good idea to have a separate chopping board when preparing raw meat and if you’re cooking chicken or turkey you should not wash it first as the bacteria can spread across the kitchen. It goes without saying, that when preparing food you should always make sure your hands are washed.
“With Christmas party nights in full swing, it’s also good to know what to do, if you suffer from a band hangover. Make sure you have something to eat before you go out and replace lost sugars with isotonic drinks, paracetamol and rest the next day.
“Whether it’s a dodgy tummy or suffering from a festive hangover, it is also a good idea to have plenty of over-the-counter remedies in your medicine cupboard so you’re not caught out while the shops are shut.
“We would also remind people of the wide range of health information available at NHS Inform which also now includes a self-help guide to enable people to understand their symptoms and make a choice about how they deal with it.”
Chief Scientific Adviser at Food Standards Scotland, Professor Norval Strachan said: “What’s so important at Christmas time is that the whole family stays healthy and safe. That means following good hygiene practice in the kitchen. Food poisoning is the last thing on anyone’s Christmas list, and you can avoid it by following some very simple advice. Wash your hands, not your turkey.
“Washing poultry is actually unnecessary, and can mean that you spread harmful bacteria such as campylobacter around your kitchen worktops and other surfaces. Proper cooking is all that’s needed to kill these harmful germs.”
The three things that Dr Owl is recommending everyone do in preparation for their health this winter:
· Make sure you have some over the counter remedies in the house for minor ailments;
· Check you have enough repeat prescription medicines – order only what you need and make sure you pick them up in plenty of time;
· Know when your GP surgery and local community pharmacy will be open.