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MasterChef Gary urges Scots to ‘Turn Down for Turkey’ as 100,000 Festive Roasts Go to Waste

Scotland’s National Chef, Gary Maclean, is calling on Scots to ‘turn down for turkey’, as he teams up with Zero Waste Scotland in the fight against festive food waste.

18 Dec 18

Statistics show that the equivalent of 100,000 turkeys will be thrown away in Scotland this Christmas.

Turning down your oven and cooking the turkey for longer at a lower temperature is among Gary’s top tips for the perfect festive roast.

The Masterchef: The Professionals winner hopes the campaign will encourage Scots to think twice about food waste as an estimated 60 million meals currently go uneaten every December.

To find out more about turkeys, from farm to festivities, Gary visited turkey farmer, Roger Lucey, whose turkeys roam free-range in woodlands in the Alloa countryside.

Gary shared more advice on how to prepare the perfect turkey this Christmas:

“The idea that 100,000 turkeys are going to be wasted this Christmas is devastating; particularly given the time and effort of Scottish poultry farmers like Roger in the run-up to the big day.

“Turkey is most likely to end up in the bin due to buying a bird that’s far too big or serving up a roast that’s dry and inedible from overcooking at high temperatures.

“My top turkey tips are threefold – buy a turkey that’s smaller than you think you need, turn down your oven to cook your turkey for longer on a lower temperature and get confident with carving. The latter means you can serve your turkey ‘buffet-style’ at the table with guests able to request a portion size that’s right for them.”

Ylva Haglund, Food Waste Campaigns Manager, Zero Waste Scotland, added:

“As a nation of food lovers with such a fantastic natural larder, it’s surprising how many meals end up being thrown away each December.

“We all have a tendency to overbuy at this time of year but just a few small changes can go a long way in reducing the amount of food waste generated over the festive season.”

Roseanna Cunningham, Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, said:

“It’s shocking to think that 60 million meals will be needlessly thrown away in Scotland this month. That’s why I’m encouraging everyone to get on board with the ‘turn down for turkey’ campaign this Christmas, and follow a few simple tips and tricks to help tackle this unnecessary and unacceptable waste. That’s a big priority for the Scottish Government, illustrated by our ambition to cut food waste by at least a third by 2025.” 

Chef Gary’s top tips for reducing turkey waste this Christmas are:

  • Buy a turkey that’s smaller than the size you think you need. Christmas sees us inclined to over-buy which leads to food waste. If buying from a butcher or direct from a farm like Gartmorn, be sure to ask for advice on the right size of bird.

    Turn down your oven & cook your turkey upside down. When preparing the turkey, cook it upside down, ensuring the juices stay in the breast meat. A lower oven temperature will also reduce the chances of the meat drying out and becoming unpalatable. Invest in a temperature probe to help you cook with confidence and ensure the meat is thoroughly cooked.

  • Get clever with carving. Many people only eat the turkey breast but through proper carving, you can make sure you’re getting the most out of the whole bird. What’s more, you can serve your turkey at the dinner table ‘buffet-style’, meaning guests can request their preferred portion size, which reduces leftovers.


Notes For Editors

About Zero Waste Scotland

Statistic reference / breakdown

  • Reference to the 60 million meals wasted in Scotland each December courtesy of Zero Waste Scotland, 2018.
  • The estimate for equivalent turkeys wasted is based on implied UK sales and the proportion of particular food types typically wasted in the UK with the result then scaled to Scotland’s population. The estimated amount of turkey wasted excludes the weight of inedible items like bones – though items like bones can of course be placed in a local authority food waste collection rather than the bin. 

Advice on cooking turkey safely at home can be found at the Food Standards Scotland website.

For media enquiries contact:

Mhairi MacLeod, Director

0131 555 6911


Sian Mackenzie, Senior Communications Account Manager

0131 555 6911 / 07508 983 300



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