Don't Be A Turkey And Get Sick On Holiday This Christmas


The Law of… Christmas Food Poisoning

If you're going on holiday during the festive season, unless you prefer a vegetarian or vegan alternative, it's likely that you're looking forward to enjoying a bit of Christmas turkey when old Saint Nick comes to visit.

While you can make sure that a turkey is safely cooked in your own home, if you're planning on going somewhere a bit warmer this Christmas, there are warning signs that you should look out for if you don't want to risk contracting food poisoning.

Sick Kitchen Staff Can Be Contagious

Although they shouldn't, food handlers may still come to work, even if they're sick, which can have disastrous consequences. It only takes one person who isn't well to spread a harmful strain of bacteria or a parasite to other guests, so keep an eye open for anyone who's looking a bit under the weather.

It's Important For Food Handlers To Wear Gloves

Although gloves aren't 100% reliable, they can help to prevent the spread of a debilitating stomach illness and they should be a standard hygiene measure for those working in food preparation, serving and dining areas.

Wearing gloves can reduce the risk of contamination, but the risk of cross-contamination is still present if gloves aren't changed between the handling of cooked and uncooked produce, as well as between preparing different types of food.

Cross-Contamination And Holiday Food Poisoning

Cross-contamination can be a big contributor to holiday food poisoning. The staff at your hotel kitchen shouldn't be using the same cutting boards and utensils to prepare and serve uncooked and cooked produce. If they do, they could spread germs that have yet to be eradicated to otherwise safe food.

Find Out Where Your Turkey Has Been

If you're familiar with preparing and cooking a turkey, you'll know that there are a few things that you need to do so that nobody becomes ill. While you don't need to know a turkey's life story, knowing how it has been stored before it's been prepared can be beneficial.

Turkeys are often delivered to hotel kitchens frozen, which is a good thing as it allows them to be safely stored for longer periods of time. It's important that they don't so much as partially defrost at any stage of the supply chain, as the risk of harmful bacteria breeding increases.

It's also important that they're defrosted safely. Generally speaking, the refrigeration is accepted as being the safest way to defrost a turkey, with room temperature being the most dangerous. If it's defrosted in a fridge, your hotel should account for approximately 24 hours for every 5 pounds of meat that need to be defrosted.

Casually asking a member of staff in a hotel dining area if they've begun thawing the turkey the day before it's due to be served is an easy way to find this out.

Check The Turkey Has Been Stuffed With A Thermometer Too

A whole turkey is quite large and it can be difficult to tell if it has been adequately cooked just by looking at it. Because of this, it's important that frequent temperature checks are carried out with a thermometer that can probe right through to the centre of a turkey.

These checks can help in ascertaining if a turkey has been cooked thoroughly enough or not, as well as help to ensure that it doesn't reach temperatures that would make it an ideal breeding ground for bacteria once it has been served.

You should see temperature checks being carried out periodically if the Christmas turkey is being served in front of guests.

Be Cautious Of Re-Gifting

Recycling food appears to be becoming a commonplace practice in some all-inclusive hotels, and while leftovers might be a traditional consequence of the traditional Christmas dinner, a hotel has to take steps to ensure that they don't make guests sick.

Once the turkey has been served, it generally shouldn't be left out for more than 2 hours, after which it should be portioned so that it can be refrigerated and cooled quickly, preventing it from settling at a temperature that is ideal for bacteria growth.

Don't Let Nature In On The Christmas Spirit

Although the spirit of Christmas is good will towards all, sharing your Christmas dinner with the wildlife in your holiday destination can be disastrous. Wildlife such as flies, birds, stray cats and lizards are all capable of spreading diseases, and just by being close to food that's being served to guests, they can spread holiday illness. If you see any of these animals coming in close contact to the food being served, you should not risk consuming this food.

Make A Complaint If Things Aren't Right

Don't worry about the naughty list if you need to complain about any of these issues while you're on holiday. We recommend speaking to a senior member of staff at your hotel, as well as your holiday representative if one is available. They should be able to take steps to rectify the problem, hopefully, before you or any of the other guests at your hotel have to endure a Christmas that's memorable for all the wrong reasons.

Christmas Turkey And Salmonella

One of the most common food poisoning strains of bacteria that you catch from a turkey is Salmonella. Salmonella can result in symptoms such as diarrhoea (which may be bloody), nausea, stomach cramps, a fever and/or chills, a headache and other flu-like symptoms. To put it simply, this holiday illness is enough to turn your Christmas in the sun into several days spent in your hotel bathroom.

If you do get sick on holiday, inform your hotelier and your tour operator rep, as they should be able to provide you with access to a medical practitioner, which in turn may result in a speedier recovery.

Entitlement To Holiday Compensation

If you booked your Christmas abroad as an all-inclusive package holiday that was spoiled by a holiday illness such as Salmonella, then under The Package Travel Regulations 1992, you could be entitled to claim compensation.

Our travel law team could give you the gift of a no-obligation consultation, during which we can assess your case and advise you if we can help you to make a 'no win no fee' compensation claim against your tour operator.

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