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Don't risk it when it comes to 'raw and risky foods'

By following a number of simple rules Queenslanders can avoid joining the more than one million Australians who visit their doctor with a bout of food poisoning each year.

Queensland's Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said the 20th Australian Food Safety Week was the perfect time for Queenslanders to brush up on their food safety.

"This year the spotlight is on raw and risky food," Dr Young said.

"The focus on these foods comes after a number of high-profile and major food poisoning outbreaks occurring across the country.

"In 2015 and also this year, we have seen people become quite ill after
consuming raw eggs, frozen berries, lettuce and unpasteurised milk."

Dr Young said it was important that people understood how serious food poisoning was.

"Each year in Australia about 32,000 people are admitted to hospital with food poisoning and sadly, about 80 people die.

"There are many types of bugs that can cause food poisoning however the two most common are Campylobacter and Salmonella."

In 2015, more than 6000 Queenslanders were sick with Campylobacter while almost 4700 reported cases of Salmonella.

Dr Young said food poisoning could be avoided if all Queenslanders adopt good food safety habits.

"Raw foods become contaminated in many ways including from the soil,
compost or irrigation water used on crops, food handlers unclean hands, unclean kitchen equipment and even cross contamination from other food.

"But cooking food thoroughly usually kills bacteria and viruses and this is why eating some raw foods places people at a greater risk of food poisoning."

Here are our top seven ways to reduce your raw-food risk:

  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 spreads 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

Dr Young said today's food safety message wasn't about scaring people and stopping them eating their favourite foods or eating their recommended five serves of veggies and two serves of fruit a day.

"Give your fruit and veg a wash under running water and then dry with a paper towel just before you eat."

Looking to brush up on your raw and risk food knowledge? Take the Raw and Risky Food Safety Quiz.

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

Last updated: 9 November 2016