Food Safety in our Community

Safe food is an important issue for everyone in our community. Food is the fuel that enables our bodies to grow, stay healthy and use energy. Our bodies do not respond well if the food we consume is contaminated with unsafe substances or organisms. Unsafe food can lead to food borne illness and there is an estimated 5.4 million Australians that suffer from food borne illness each year.

Symptoms of foodborne illness may include diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, fever and can even lead to death in severe cases. The severity of the illness depends on the pathogen or other contaminant associated with the illness and the amount of the organism or substance that has been ingested by the person. Young children, the elderly and people with chronic underlying illnesses are likely to experience more severe symptoms.

Safe food at home, work and school

Food safety is just as important at home, work and school. Here are some golden rules to ensure food is always safely prepared and stored:

• Avoid foods that are spoiled, past their use-by date or in damaged packaging
• Take chilled, frozen or hot foods straight home in insulated containers
• Keep high risk foods out of the temperature danger zone – keep chilled foods cold at 5C or colder and hot food at 60C or hotter
• Avoid high risk foods that have been left in the temperature danger zone for more than four hours
• Always keep raw foods and cooked or ready-to-eat food separate during transport, storage and preparation
• Store cooked and ready-to-eat foods above raw foods in the refrigerator
• Thaw food in the fridge, away from and below cooked or ready-to-eat food
• Wash and dry hands before preparing food and between handling raw and cooked foods
• Cook minced meats, poultry, fish and sausages thoroughly
• Larger portions of food take longer to cool – divide large portions into smaller batches before cooling
• Maintain clean and dry chopping boards for food preparation
• When in doubt, throw it out!

Further information about food safety at home, work and school can be found from the Australian Food Safety Information Council’s website and the Queensland Health website.