Keep hot food hot and cold food cold
  • Tuesday 28 October 2014

This simple but effective food safety tip is the focus of this year’s Australian Food Safety Week – November 9 to 16 – in an effort to combat 5.4 million Australians getting sick every year from eating food contaminated with bacteria or viruses.

Community Programs Portfolio Councillor Jenny McKay said as one third of food poisoning cases were caused by mistakes at home, Sunshine Coast Council was working to improve local residents’ knowledge of how to handle, store and cook food safely.

“Food regulations in Australia help maintain food safety up to the time it reaches the consumer, after that, it’s up to you – the consumer,” Cr McKay said.

“The theme for Food Safety Week 2014 is Temperature danger zone – keeping hot food hot and cold food cold.  A few simple actions can cut the likelihood of food poisoning drastically.

“Food poisoning is caused by bacteria and viruses in our food. Cooking food kills them but it’s important to prevent cooked food becoming contaminated again.

“Food poisoning bacteria multiply rapidly in food with a temperature between five and 60 degrees. Keeping perishable food below or above these temperatures can prevent bacteria growing.

“By following these simple tips, you can make sure that you, and the people you cook for, are safe from food poisoning.”

Four fundamental food safety tips:
Our health is in our hands! Clean hands will decrease the possibility of food poisoning and other diseases markedly. Remember the 20/20 rule: wash hands for 20 seconds with warm soapy water, dry hands for 20 seconds before starting to cook, repeat frequently especially after handling raw meats, or vegetables with visible soil. Wash utensils and cutting boards with soap and warm water, and dry thoroughly, before handling different sorts of foods. This is particularly important when dealing with raw meats and vegetables.
Food that is meant to be kept chilled should be! Meat, poultry, dairy foods, vegetables, salad ingredients etc should be refrigerated at or below 5ºC as soon as possible after purchase. Sounds easy but often food is left in hot cars or put in refrigerators that are not cold enough. A fridge thermometer should be used to check the temperature. The temperature should be adjusted in line with changing seasons and the amount stored. Refrigerate leftovers promptly. Cooked food should be stored in covered containers and either put in the fridge to cool, or frozen immediately. Frozen foods should be defrosted in the fridge NOT on the kitchen bench. If in doubt, throw it out!
Properly cooking food minimises the risk of food poisoning. Cook chicken, minced or boned meats, hamburger, stuffed meats and sausages right through until they reach 75°C using a meat thermometer. Serve hot food steaming hot above 60ºC. Defrost frozen poultry and rolled and stuffed meats thoroughly before cooking. Always follow cooking instructions on packaged foods.
Cross contamination is a major way for food borne diseases to spread. To avoid cross contamination keep raw and cooked foods separate when storing and preparing. Food should be stored in covered containers in the fridge and put raw meats and poultry in the bottom of the fridge so the juices don’t contaminate food on lower shelves. Don’t put cooked meat back on the plate the raw meat was on.

For food businesses, Council also offers free, face-to-face food handler training sessions run by experienced Environmental Health Officers who understand the food industry. The next session is at Maroochydore Multi Sports Complex on Tuesday, November 18 from 5.30 - 8.30pm. Book and find out more on Council’s website.