New research reveals that over half of consumers in Northern Ireland find getting everything ready on time for Christmas dinner challenging!

7 December, 2009. New research commissioned by safefood reveals that 54% of people in Northern Ireland found the most challenging aspect of Christmas dinner was getting everything ready on time. This was followed by making sure the turkey was properly cooked and safe to eat (27%) and making sure the meal tastes good (20%). The research also revealed that although consumers that cooking Christmas dinner is hard work, they still say it is worth the effort (43%).

Dr. Gary A. Kearney, Director of Food Science, safefood commented; “We know the cooking Christmas dinner is a challenging, but rewarding part of Christmas. And with 80% of people usually cooking for between 3 and 10 people on Christmas Day, the home kitchen can be a very busy place. Our advice this year will make it easier to cook a safe and tasty turkey in a fan assisted oven and there are lots of ways consumers can get the exact cooking time to suit their turkey, whether stuffed or unstuffed.”

He continued, “The length of time you cook your turkey is a key factor in ensuring it is safe and tasty, but our research reveals just 9% of people work out the cooking time based on the weight of their turkey. 19% of people said they thought their turkey was cooked by either looking at it or by the smell, but these methods don’t guarantee that the turkey is thoroughly cooked.”

“The best way to ensure a turkey is cooked properly it by calculating the correct cooking time based on the weight of the turkey and the stuffing. Why not pick up our FREE leaflet and cooking timer from your local butcher or text our SMS* service and get a cooking time straight to your mobile phone. You can also call our helpline on 0800 085 1683, try our FREE cooking calculator application for iPhone or visit our Christmas section, where you can view video clips of award winning chef Neven Maguire storing, preparing, stuffing, cooking and carving the turkey.”

“Whatever type of oven, cooking time or recipe you use, make sure to check the turkey is thoroughly cooked before serving. Pierce the thickest part of the breast and thigh with a clean fork or skewer and make sure that the juices run clear. Check that there is no pink meat left and that the meat is piping hot throughout. An under-cooked turkey may cause food poisoning and no one wants that for their family and friends at Christmas time,” Dr. Kearney added.

Supporting safefood’s guidelines, Chef Neven Maguire said; “Christmas dinner is undoubtedly one of the most special meals of the year, but preparing a tasty and nutritious meal for family and friends is pointless if the proper food hygiene practices are ignored. Any leftovers should be cooled and refrigerated within two hours of cooking and eaten within three days, making sure they are piping hot and reheated only once. My recipe for a turkey and leek pie is a delicious way to use up the leftovers and is available on the safefood website.”

Turkey is the meat of choice for Christmas with 92% of people saying they eat turkey on Christmas Day. 73% of people said they buy a fresh turkey, with 19% purchasing a frozen turkey. Consumers should remember to thoroughly defrost their frozen turkey prior to cooking and carefully wash their hands in warm soapy water if they come into contact with raw turkey.

For information regarding the recommended cooking times and temperatures for gas and non-fan assisted electric ovens and advice on food safety or nutrition visit our Christmas page or call the safefood helpline on 0800 085 1683. Consumers can also request a copy of safefood’s free Christmas leaflet, ‘Time the turkey to perfection this Christmas!’


For further information please contact

Claire Hutchinson/Claire Bickerstaff

Smarts PR

Tel: 028 903955000

07833 668759 (Claire) 

Dermot Moriarty


Tel: 01 4480060 


1. ‘Attitudes to Christmas Dinner in NI’ research by Millward Brown, 12th - 18th November 2009

Editor's notes

Additional research findings:

  • 38% of people said the turkey being undercooked was the worst thing that could go wrong with their Christmas dinner
  • 17% of people said the turkey being overcooked was the worst thing that could go wrong with their Christmas dinner
  • 44% of people enjoy the challenge of cooking the Christmas dinner
  • Of the 7% that do not buy turkey for Christmas dinner, 25% buy beef, 23% buy chicken, 12% buy ham and 10% buy fish
  • 40% of people buy their turkey 2-5 days before the Day, with 34% of people buying it the day before

safefood SMS SERVICE:

*To get the best (and safest) cooking time for your turkey, simply text the weight of your turkey in KILOS to 51500 (Standard SMS costs apply) and you will receive your calculated cooking time. And if you stuff your turkey, you’ll also receive the maximum amount of stuffing to use.

For example:

For an unstuffed turkey Text UNSTUFFED and the weight of your turkey in kilograms to 51500 (Standard SMS costs apply) E.g. for a 5.2kg turkey, text UNSTUFFED 5.2

For a stuffed turkey Text STUFFED and the weight of your unstuffed turkey in kilos to 51500 (Standard SMS costs apply) E.g. for a 6.0kg turkey, text STUFFED 6 (don’t worry; we will calculate the weight of the stuffing for you).

Note: safefood’s cooking advice is based on electric, fan assisted ovens only. It is important that you make adjustments based on your own oven type. For other oven types and times, please visit or call the safefood helpline 0800 085 1683.

SMS Terms and Conditions

  • The texting service will commence on 7 December 2009 and end on 26 December 2009
  • This service is being provided by safefood (
  • You must have the bill-payer’s permission to take part
  • This service is only open to residents of ROI and NI
  • Neither safefood, nor Púca are responsible for any network delay or non-receipt of messages
  • SP: Púca (00353 1-2186831 / PO Box 10975, Dublin 4.)