Aunty May’s Christmas Kitchen

Follow Aunty May as she prepares to cook Christmas dinner for the first time

It’s hard to believe the festive season is upon us once again. We understand 2020 has been a challenging year and it’s likely this Christmas will be a bit different for many of us.

So, we have teamed up with the country’s best-loved panto star, Aunty May, to share some important food safety tips on how to have a safe and healthy Christmas dinner.

Poster showing pantomime dame

If you're doing the cooking this Christmas, download a copy of our festive food safety checklist, it has lots of handy tips and advice to help you plan.

Aunty May is planning on cooking Christmas dinner for the first time ever! She does need of a bit of help though, so over the next few weeks we’ll be sharing what she has learned from Food Standards Scotland. Stay tuned to our social media channels and come back again soon for more!

Use-by and best before dates:

  • A use-by date is about food safety and used on foods that go off quickly, such as raw meat, cooked sliced meats, dairy products and pate
  • You shouldn’t use any food after the use-by date even if it looks and smells fine, because it might contain harmful bacteria
  • A best before date is about food quality, so after this date the food will be safe to eat, but its flavour, colour or texture might begin to deteriorate
  • Follow storage instructions on food labels which will state how long you can keep the food (particularly once opened) and whether it needs to go in the fridge

Read more about use-by and best before

Making a plan is a great tip when you’re getting organised for Christmas dinner, it’s really helped Aunty May! As well as use by and best before dates, Aunty May needed a bit of advice on how to prepare and cook her meat. Watch our latest video to find out more.

Defrosting meat:

  • Ensure meat is thoroughly defrosted in the fridge before cooking
  • Work out defrosting times (which vary depending on the size of your meat) to know how much time to allow

Preparing turkey/meat:

Never wash your turkey or poultry – this can cause bacteria to splash onto worktops, dishes and other foods

Read more about defrosting safely

Cooking your turkey/meat:

  • Always check meat bird is properly cooked using a food thermometer in the thickest part so it reaches 75°C or above
  • There should be no pink meat before serving because eating undercooked turkey (or other poultry) could cause food poisoning

Read our turkey cooking guide or get tips for cooking other types of meat


  • Don't leave a plate of turkey or cold meats out all day at room temperature because food poisoning bacteria can grow and multiply. Refrigerate as soon as you can, ideally within an hour
  • Don't keep leftovers for longer than two days in the fridge

Read more about preparing your Christmas meal, including cooking advice and storing your leftovers.

We hope you all have a safe and healthy Christmas dinner!

A very merry Christmas and happy new year from Food Standards Scotland!

Aunty May's Christmas Kitchen - BSL

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