Sharen O'Brien demonstrates good food safety ahead of the festive season.
Sharen O'Brien demonstrates good food safety ahead of the festive season.

Be food safe this festive season

FOOD poisoning and tummy bugs don’t have to be part of the family Christmas if southwest residents follow a few simple food safety tips this season.

Preparing food for many people can be risky, especially at this time of the year when several generations get together, the weather is hot and the fridge is overloaded, South West Hospital and Health Service Senior Dietitian Cristal Newman said.

“All of these factors can conspire to provide perfect conditions for food poisoning bacteria to multiply in our food and result in stomach upsets, vomiting and diarrhoea,” she said

Mrs Newman said each year in Australia about 32,000 people are hospitalised, 86 people die, and one million people visit a doctor because of food poisoning.

“Those who are most at risk include the very young, the elderly, those with existing health issues and pregnant women,” she said.

After eating, the best way to ensure leftovers are safe is to refrigerate immediately and before eating again, always ensure it is heated to at least 70C for at least 2 minutes and is steaming all the way through, Mrs Newman said.

“Cooking food thoroughly usually kills bacteria and viruses, and therefore eating some raw food puts people at a greater risk of food poisoning,” she said.

“By following food safety advice, you can dramatically reduce the risk of any form of food poisoning.”

Here are 5 tips to keep family and friends food-safe during the holidays:

  1. Don’t cross-contaminate fresh or cooked food with raw meat or poultry. Carry them in separate shopping bag, use separate chopping boards and utensils, and store covered and separated in the fridge.
  2. Avoid the undercooked roast by making sure it is fully defrosted. Don’t wash any poultry before cooking as that will spread the bacteria around your kitchen. Cook the roast until a meat thermometer shows it has reached 75o C in the thickest part and cook any stuffing separately as it might not fully cook inside a whole roast.
  3. Keep salads in the fridge until meal time and return when finished. Cooked pasta and rice are also a food poisoning risk if not refrigerated.
  4. Seafood is also a great choice for Christmas and if it is cooked, most common food poisoning bacteria and viruses will be killed; but there can be risks if you eat it raw. Be hygienic in preparing pre-cooked prawns, bugs or crabs which can also be contaminated by your hands when peeled or shelled.
  5. Avoid raw or minimally cooked egg dishes, such as raw egg mayonnaise or fancy desserts. Never use cracked or dirty eggs.

To learn more about food safety in Queensland and how you can protect your family’s health, visit: www.health.qld.gov.au/foodsafety


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