Science proves it's safe to eat 48-year-old Christmas pud!

15 Dec 2017 11:27:00.987
Is it safe to eat a 48-year-old Christmas pudding? This was the question Channel 4’s Food Unwrapped posed to scientists at the University of Nottingham and the resounding answer was….yes it is!


The programme, *‘Food Unwrapped does Christmas’ aired earlier this week and uncovered some surprises behind festive food. The episode showed presenter Dr Helen Lawal’s visit to the Food Sciences labarotories at the University’s Sutton Bonington campus where she wanted to find out if a Christmas pudding as old as the moon landings could be safely eaten, and what it would taste like.

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Using a pudding made by a university colleague’s great aunt in 1969, Dr Tania Perehinec took samples and put them through rigorous laboratory testing to see whether harmful bacteria including E.coli or Salmonella grew. The results showed that no bacteria grew from the pudding, which was also clear of any yeast or mould.


Tania explains why this is the case: “Bacteria can’t survive in a ‘dry’ Christmas pudding like this one. Although there is moisture there's a difference between food appearing moist to eat and the availability of water which microbes need to grow. The moisture in the food might be because of the fat or sugars that are in there, but the water may be bound up with food components making it unavailable for bacteria to grow.

It is also important to remember that our Christmas pudding had been cooked by boiling for several hours and as such the viable bacteria would also have been killed in the cooking process. In addition it was tightly sealed from the air and stored in a cool place. For commercially produced puddings it is recommened to adhere to use by dates and storage conditions appropriate to the product.”

The pudding was cooked for 15 minutes in a pressure cooker before Helen and Tania had a taste. And whist the results were clear that it was perfectly safe to eat, opinion was divided on whether or not it tasted good!

*The Christmas pudding segment appears 41 minutes into the programme.


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Notes to editors: 

The University of Nottingham is a research-intensive university with a proud heritage, consistently ranked among the world's top 100. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our 44,000 students - Nottingham was named University of the Year for Graduate Employment in the 2017 Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, was awarded gold in the TEF 2017 and features in the top 20 of all three major UK rankings. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement. We are ranked eighth for research power in the UK according to REF 2014. We have six beacons of research excellence helping to transform lives and change the world; we are also a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally.

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More information is available from Christine Dodd on 0115 9516163 or


Jane Icke - Media Relations Manager (Faculty of Science)

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 951 5751 Location: University Park

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