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Don’t let your bottom get on top of you this Food Safety Week

Almost everyone has experienced it: the stomach cramps, the nausea, the diarrhoea.

Every year more than 5 million Australians are estimated to contract a foodborne illness, 32,000 people are hospitalised, and sadly, up to 80 die.

“Food poisoning can be serious, which is why it pays for Queenslanders to brush up on food safety during Food Safety Week,” said Sophie Dwyer, Executive Director, Health Protection Branch.

“A number of bugs can cause food poisoning, however the two most common are Campylobacter and Salmonella.

“In 2016, more than 7500 Queenslanders became sick with Campylobacter while there were almost 4800 reported cases of Salmonella.

“There are many ways food can become contaminated including from soil, or from compost or irrigation water used on crops.

“Contamination can also occur when food is handled or processed by people with unclean hands, is processed with equipment that isn’t clean, or is cross contaminated by other food.

“One way to keep yourself and your family safe is to cook food thoroughly, which will usually kill bacteria and viruses.

Ms Dwyer said this year’s Food Safety Week theme is ‘Is it done yet? Use a thermometer for great food, cooked safely every time’.

“Using a thermometer to make sure the internal temperature of food—especially meat—gets high enough when cooking to kill bacteria and viruses, is a great way to improve food safety,” she said.

“Meat, poultry and leftovers should be cooked to 75°C in the centre – the exception is whole meats such as steak, which can be cooked to taste as long as the exterior is thoroughly cooked.

“To test the temperature, the thermometer probe should be inserted in the thickest part of the meat, such as the thigh on poultry, not touching bone or gristle which can give a false reading.

“Importantly, thermometer probes should be thoroughly cleaned each time they are used so as not to transfer contamination, after use and before storage.”

Other top ideas for protecting yourself and your family include:

  1. Never use cracked or dirty eggs.
  2. Prepare raw or lightly cooked egg dishes such as mayonnaise, aioli, custard and tiramisu as close as possible to consuming and refrigerate below 5°C. Dispose of any left-over food after 24 hours.
  3. Don’t wash eggs or raw meats as this can spread bacteria around your kitchen.
  4. Don’t consume unpasteurised milk or raw apricot kernels - they are unsafe to eat.
  5. Store raw meats and seafood on the bottom shelf of your fridge so they don’t drip onto ready-to-eat foods.
  6. Use separate chopping boards for raw meat and ready-to-eat foods
  7. Refrigerate all cut fruits and vegetables.

You can improve your food safety knowledge by taking the ‘Is it done yet?’ food safety quiz.

To learn more about food safety in Queensland and how you can protect your family’s health visit Food safety.

Media contact: +61 7 3708 5376

Last updated: 16 November 2017