Food Safety This Festive Season
Australia produces some of the freshest and safest foods in the world yet it’s during the festive season that many cases of food borne illness occur as food is not stored or cooked appropriately during this busy time.
To prevent your party from being the talk of the town for all the wrong reasons, here are some tips to keep your friends and family safe:
Food borne illness at home
Many cases of food poisoning originate at home or at functions where food is prepared and cooked for a large number of people. Food poisoning is likely to have a greater effect on certain guests: pregnant women, infants, the elderly, and those whose immune systems are suppressed.
To make sure your party food is safe this festive season, have everyone preparing food for your party practice these safe food handling rules: (301)
- Remember to wash hands in hot soapy water and dry thoroughly before food preparation and when switching between raw food to be cooked e.g. meat and chicken and foods to be eaten raw e.g. salads.
- Have separate chopping knives and boards when preparing raw foods to be cooked and foods to be eaten raw.
- In the fridge, store foods to be consumed raw above those that are to be cooked.
- Meat can be thawed at room temperature but must be cooked as soon as thawed.
- The stuffing in chickens and turkeys can reduce cooking temperature so these are best cooked separately and added prior to serving.
- Sausages, mince dishes and poultry must be cooked all the way through. Steaks and chops can be eaten rare.
- If cooking in bulk, use a thermometer to check food temperature of the pot.
- Store food at the appropriate temperature: chilled food less than 5 degrees or hot cooked food greater than 60 degrees. Bacteria will grow rapidly between 5 and 60 degrees.
- Leftovers should be stored appropriately. Place in fridge or cool room as soon as cooked food stops steaming, best transferred into smaller containers to increase the surface area, and ensure there is enough space around each container for the cool air to circulate.
- Use a fridge thermometer to check the fridge temperature and avoid placing foods in the fridge door unless it too is less than 5 degrees.
- Reuse leftovers within 2-3 days but reheat thoroughly and rapidly to above 60 degrees.
What foods are more likely to harbour food borne bacteria?
Foods you need to watch for are foods high in protein such as:
- Cooked meat and foods containing cooked meat such as casseroles.
- Cooked foods containing small goods e.g. pizza toppings.
- Dairy products such as milk and custard, dairy desserts or sauces containing milk or cream.
- Fish and seafood contain food borne bacteria.
- Cooked pasta and rice e.g. lasagne.
- Foods containing eggs and legumes.
Food safety is essential this season, particularly in our HOT Ausssie weather so practice safe food handling to keep nasty bacteria at bay and keep your family and friends happy and healthy.
If you have any other food safety tips, especially when cooking for a large crowd at Christmas, feel free to share them in the comments below.
Author: Lisa Yates, Consultant Dietitian Adv APD
Lisa Yates is an Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian with 16 years experience in nutrition, communications, clinical practice, as well as strategy development and implementation.