Don’t let your Christmas Festivities be ruined by a bout of Food Poisoning. In the Cove has had many jobs in her life. One of them was working for the Food Standards Authority in Canberra. I would have to sit through so many boring meetings and read a massive amount of materials. One of the brochures I always read from cover to cover was information on Food Safety. Ask anyone who knows ITC well and they will tell you I am paranoid about food safety (I always rush home with my groceries and never reheat rice!!)
Did you know that a high risk time for food poisoning is Christmas Time? It can happen very easily at home if you do not follow some simple rules.
According to the NSW Food Safety Authority “Food poisoning is the name for the range of illnesses caused by eating or drinking contaminated food or drink. It is also sometimes called foodborne illness. It is quite common, affecting an estimated 4.1 million Australians each year. The symptoms can be unpleasant, and for some groups they can be quite serious.”
According to experts you are more at risk at Christmas time because the weather is hot, the fridge is packed, the fridge door is opened and closed more often.
Here are a few simple steps to take to avoid food poisoning:
- Make sure you have enough room in your Fridge and make sure that food is kept cold at or less than Five Degrees Celsius;
- Put your drinks in an esky with ice or the bathtub with ice – don’t take up fridge space with things that don’t need to be kept in the fridge (i.e soft drinks);
- Always wash your hands with warm water and soap. Wash hands immediately after handling raw foods and before handling cooked or ready-to-eat food. Dry your hands thoroughly afterwards not on a tea towel (and definitely not on a Lane Cove Tea Towel);
- Thaw frozen food in the fridge, not on the bench as Salmonella bacteria love to grow between the temperatures of five and 60 degrees Celsius
- Use separate cutting boards and utensils for raw meat;
- Avoid keeping food in the temperature danger zone between 50C and 60C where food poisoning bacteria grow best;
- Prepare foods as close as possible to serving time;
- Don’t leave food out to nibble on too long, for example put out small serves of dips and replace every few hours;
- Cook the Turkey properly – It must be cooked all the way through to ensure that nasty bacteria is killed;
- Use a Meat Thermometer to check that the Turkey is properly cooked (your butcher will tell you the correct temp). The liquid from the Turkey must be clear not pink;
- We all love stuffing – but stuffing slows down the cooking and cooling – so cook it separately;
- We all love Seafood and many people from Lane Cove go to the Seafood Markets for their seafood. Make sure you take an esky or cooler bag with ice and and pack it around the fish for the drive home. Take it out of your car and immediately put in the coldest part of the Fridge;
- If you like to do a big cook up before guests arrive, make sure you divide into small containers so it cools quickly and then put in the fridge or freezer with good air circulation around the containers;
- Never leave leftovers out on the Kitchen Bench. Use refrigerated leftovers within 2 to 3 days. Reheat food all the way through to at least 75 °C so it is steaming hot.
The longer food is left out of the fridge, the more bacteria will multiply. If food that is normally refrigerated has been sitting out for over two hours, you should throw it out.
Don’t prepare food for others if you’ve had symptoms of gastroenteritis until 48 hours after symptoms have passed.
NSW Food Authority CEO, Dr Lisa Szabo, said to reduce the risk of Salmonella poisoning, consumers and food retailers can use commercially produced products instead of homemade mayonnaise and sauces.
“It is also much safer to use commercially pasteurised eggs rather than raw eggs in ready-to-eat products such as desserts and dressings,” Dr Szabo said.
Symptoms of Salmonellosis include fever, headache, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting and usually last for four to seven days.
The Food Safety Information Council recommends the following in relation to your Christmas Ham:
“Your Christmas ham will keep several weeks with proper handling by removing it from its plastic wrap, covering with clean cloth soaked in water and vinegar so it doesn’t dry out. Follow any instructions on the packaging and store it in the fridge at or below 5 °C. Reduced salt hams are now becoming popular but will not last as long as conventional hams so follow instructions on the packaging”
If you would like to find out more about food safety, you can watch this video.
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