Observing food safety during the festive season is important and the Health Service is reminding people of their responsibilities if they wish to prevent accidentally making a friend or relative ill.
The best way to avoid food related illnesses is by abiding by strict food handling, serving and storage guidelines throughout summer, said Mr Ingo Steppat, Environmental Health Officer.
Mr Steppat said the likelihood of food poisoning increases when food is stored and served at incorrect temperatures or keeping it for too long at room temperature.
Many households and businesses have the important job of catering safely for large numbers of guests in the weeks ahead, he said.
“The responsibility to ensure that guidelines for safe food handling and storage are implemented, lies with the host,” said Mr Steppat.
Raw meat, fish, poultry as well as raw vegetables can contain large numbers of bacteria that can readily contaminate other food if they are not stored or handled carefully.
Mr Steppat advised that foods that have been placed out for consumption should be stored on ice if it is to be left out for any period of time and placed back in the fridge when serving is finished. It's also a good idea to check that all your refrigerators are chilled to lower than 5ºC and that they're not overstocked.
“You should also place drinks in eskies with ice rather than opening and closing fridges which causes the fridge temperature to rise and compromise the quality of the food,” said Mr Steppat.
Guidelines for the safe handling, storage and serving of food include:
- The safest way to thaw frozen food is either in a clean refrigerator or microwave; otherwise the longer it is left out at room temperature the more bacteria can multiply.
- Refrigerator temperature should be lower than 5ºC. Chilled food needs to be stored below this temperature, any higher and bacteria start to grow.
- Don't overstock your fridge. There needs to be good airflow around food ensuring even distribution of temperature.
- Hot foods need to be kept at a temperature of 60°C at which bacteria cannot survive.
- Reheated foods should be quickly reheated until all parts of the food reach 75°C.
- Use different cutting boards and knifes for raw and cooked food.
- Wash hands thoroughly before and after handling food to stop the spread of bacteria.
Mr Steppat said if you are unsure of the quality of any food, remember the old saying, 'if in doubt, throw it out'.