Avoid bacteria in Christmas food

Christmas foodChristmas food.Photo: Mattilsynet

One good Christmas lunch or dinner will last for a long time, but while the dishes are hot, they will grow bacteria. Here are tips to avoid bacteria in Christmas food.


Many of the dishes on a nice Christmas lunch or dinner table consist of pre-cooked foods that are just to be warmed up again before serving.

These dishes should be served steaming hot. Bacteria grow at temperatures between 20° and 40°, whereas most bacteria die when the food is warmed above 70°. Leftovers to be eaten the following day also have to be warmed up to full heat to avoid bacteria.

Set leftovers aside for quick cooling

Neither hot, nor cold dishes such as herring, and salmon, should stand for long on the dining table. Set the food in the fridge.

Should you arrange a big Christmas breakfast, you can arrange the food the day before. If you have liver paté, cooked ham, or cooked rice, you should put the food straight into the refrigerator after it has cooled down.

Clean the refrigerator

Lightly baked food such as meat, and toppings, should always be stored in a refrigerator where the temperature is 4° or lower.

Clean the fridge before doing the Christmas dinners. To make space, you can move out canned food, mineral water, fruit and vegetables.

In a crowded refrigerator, there is too little air circulation, which may cause the temperature to rise. Check the thermostat and adjust the temperature if necessary.

Keep raw and cooked food apart

When you prepare for Christmas dinner, store the ingredients away from finished food. It is especially important to prevent raw meat, poultry, fish or eggs from being in contact with food that is to be eaten without heating up further.

Divide the different raw materials and ready-to-eat foods. Wash the chopping boards
thoroughly between chopping of the different foods.

Wash your hands! Almost constantly.

Last but not least, you should always wash your hands before cooking a meal, and between handling different ingredients, and, of course, after a toilet visit.

Follow advice from the Norwegian Food Safety Authority’s mini-magazine, ‘It’s not enough to be a good cook’ when cooking.

© NTB Scanpix / Norway Today