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Don't ruin Australia Day by poisoning your guests

While getting the quantity of food right for your Australia Day BBQ is important, ensuring you don’t inadvertently give your guests food poisoning should be the priority for all hosts on January 26.

Queensland Health’s Executive Director Health Protection Sophie Dwyer said our love of grazing on food can lead to food poisoning when perishable foods are left unrefrigerated for hours. Left out of the fridge, some bacteria in food can multiply to dangerous levels.

“It’s really important to be aware of proper food preparation and storage, and how long food is left sitting out in the heat,” she said.

There are at least 4.1 million cases of gastroenteritis food poisoning in Australia each year.

“Quite often the food that makes us sick looks, smells and tastes normal. However, most food poisoning is easy to prevent,” Ms Dwyer said.

“Start by washing your hands thoroughly before handling food.

“Foods such as dips, soft cheeses, pate, smoked salmon, and cold meats should not be left unrefrigerated for more than two hours.

“Always use a clean plate when taking cooked meat off the BBQ—never use a plate with raw meat juices on it. It’s also important to use separate utensils for cooked and raw meat.

“Don’t pour marinade from raw meats onto cooked meat and make sure your sausages, meat patties and chicken are cooked through. You can check by making sure all juices run clear.”

Ms Dwyer said once cooked, if the food is not going to be eaten straight away, it should either be kept above 60 degrees, or chilled quickly and kept in the fridge.

“Reheat food as quickly as possible until steaming hot. Keep cold foods at 5 degrees or colder and thaw frozen food in the refrigerator or microwave—not on the kitchen bench,” she said.

For everything you need to know about healthy BBQ techniques from how to grill vegetables, to choosing and preparing the perfect meat dishes, visit:

Last updated: 21 January 2016