Food Safety - Make sure you are prepared
Published 8 November 2021
Australian Food Safety Week 2021 will be held from 13 to 20 November 2021.
As part of Australian Food Safety Week, Woollahra Municipal Council urges local consumers to reduce their risk of food poisoning by being prepared.
This year’s theme ‘Food safety - be prepared’ is aimed at building resilience in the community, especially after disasters, by setting up a basic food safety toolkit and encouraging public engagement with food safety courses.
We want our community to be prepared for these with a simple food safety toolbox that you can put together in advance and use in these 4 simple stages:
Buy thermometers. Next time you are at the shops, or shop online, purchase a fridge thermometer and a cooking/meat thermometer which are available from kitchenware, hardware and BBQ/outdoor stores.
Check your fridge temperature. Use your fridge thermometer to check your fridge is running at 5°C or below to stop the growth of most food poisoning bacteria and reduce food waste. 'Use buy' dates on refrigerated food only apply if your fridge is running at or below this temperature.
Use your cooking/meat thermometer. It won’t do any good if your thermometer never leaves your kitchen drawer! Use it to check that high risk foods such as poultry, mince, sausages, hamburger patties, liver, leftovers and rolled roasts reach at least 75°C in the centre. Egg dishes need to be at least 72 °C in the centre (or until the white is firm and the yolk thickens).
Take a food safety course. We would love to see everyone in the community take a basic food safety course and learn more about food safety. This will help keep you and your family safer and open up job opportunities for you as food handlers in cafes and restaurants or in the child care, aged care and disability sectors. You will also need these food safety skills if you want to develop your newly developed culinary skills into a business, help at the school canteen or even run a community sausage sizzle.
How much do you know about Food Safety?
Learn more about food safety and test your knowledge and take the food safety quiz on the Food Safety Information Council website.
Keep Christmas clean (and safe)
- Keep it clean: Don’t forget to wash your hands in warm soapy water before preparing and cooking food, and after handling eggs, seafood, raw meat, poultry, burgers and sausages. Ensure your tools, utensils and chopping, cheese and presentation boards are cleaned and dried thoroughly before you start preparing your food and ensure you clean any tools (especially wooden presentation boards) with hot soapy water after use. Give eskies which contained food for picnics a good wipe down too.
- Fail to plan, plan to fail: Plan ahead and don’t buy more food than you need. It’s vital that you don’t overstock your fridge and freezer, as this won’t allow the cool air to circulate freely and perishable food cannot be adequately frozen or chilled. Less food will also help to reduce food waste.
- Space is key: Make room in your fridge for perishable foods by removing alcohol and soft drinks and put them on ice in a container or laundry sink. This also stops guests opening the fridge and helps to maintain the temperature at 5°C or below. Use a fridge thermometer to check the temperature.
- Bird or bits? Think about getting a turkey breast that is simpler to cook, rather than a whole turkey. If you do need a whole turkey ask your supermarket if they sell them fresh rather than frozen. Otherwise it must be defrosted in your fridge which can take several days and also increase the risk of potentially contaminating ready to eat foods stored in the fridge.
- Don’t wash the chicken! Don’t wash any poultry before cooking as that will spread the bacteria around your kitchen. Cook poultry until a meat thermometer shows it has reached 75° C in the thickest part of the thigh and cook any stuffing separately as it will slow the cooking and the inside of the bird might not be fully cooked. Probe thermometers are readily available, easy to use and help you make sure that food has reached the right temperature.
- Don’t go raw. Cooked egg dishes are simple and nutritious but try to avoid raw or minimally cooked egg dishes, such as raw egg mayonnaise or aioli, eggnog or fancy desserts, which can be a particular risk for food poisoning. A safer alternative, if you want to serve raw egg dishes, is to look for pasteurised egg products.
- Christmas ham won’t last forever– check the storage instructions and best before or use by date before removing the ham from its plastic wrap, cover it with clean cloth soaked in water and vinegar so it doesn’t dry out, and store it in the fridge at or below 5°C. Keep the cloth moist to stop the ham drying out too much. It is important to remember that the use by date on the original packaging won’t apply after the packaging has been removed, so check the fine print and see if the ham has a suggested shelf life after opening. Reduced salt hams are now becoming popular but will not last as long as conventional hams so think how much you are going to use in the next week or so and freeze some for later.
- Phased roll-out: Don’t leave dips and other perishable chilled foods like patés, cold meats, soft cheeses like camembert and brie, cold poultry, cooked seafood like prawns and smoked salmon, sushi and salads out for more than two hours. Put out small amounts and replace (not top them up) from the fridge.
- Get it cold, quick. Refrigerate leftovers as soon as possible. If perishable foods and leftovers have been left out of the fridge for less than two hours they should be okay to refrigerate or freeze to eat later, so long as they haven’t been sitting in the sun. Never eat perishable food that has been unrefrigerated for more than four hours as it may not be safe and should be thrown away. Food should not be refrigerated if it has been outside in the heat for more than an hour and discarded after it has sat outside for 2 hours.
- Get it right hot. Always reheat leftovers to 75°C in the centre of the item or the thickest part to kill any food poisoning bugs. Use a probe thermometer to help you make sure that the leftovers have been reheated safely.
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