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Queensland's gastro rate is no laughing matter

Contestants serving undercooked chicken and curdled mayonnaise made from raw eggs are good for a laugh on reality cooking shows such as My Kitchen Rules.

But recent Queensland Health statistics on food poisoning are no joke, revealing that the community may be unaware of just how risky eating or handling these foods can be.

Executive Director of Health Protection, Sophie Dwyer says figures for gastrointestinal diseases such as Salmonella and Campylobacter are significantly higher than the same time last year.

"Cooking disasters on reality television may entertain viewers, but it’s not funny when gastro strikes due to poor hygiene and cooking practices," Ms Dwyer said.

"Campylobacter is the most common cause of food poisoning in Australia, with more than 3200 people getting so ill in 2014 that they ended up receiving hospital treatment.

"It is most commonly caused by touching raw chicken.

"Cross-contamination is the main way Campylobacter is contracted and spread, and this can be avoided by simple hygiene measures when handling raw chicken.

"Cover and chill raw chicken; cook chicken thoroughly; don’t wash raw chicken as this spreads Campylobacter via splashing water; and wash used utensils."

Ms Dwyer said recent Salmonella outbreaks had been linked to production of products containing raw or undercooked eggs, and cross contamination from poor hygiene.

"I reinforce to the public the message that they need to take care with eggs, particularly when foods have been prepared using uncooked or undercooked eggs," she said.

"Examples of foods that contain raw egg include mayonnaise, mousse and cheesecake.

"Foods containing raw egg should never be left out of the fridge for any longer than two hours in total and, if not consumed within a day, should be thrown out.

"As with all food, good hygiene procedures should always be followed when handling eggs and egg products."

Last updated: 18 March 2015