Germs like Christmas too

While Christmas can be a great time to catch up with family and friends, it can also be potentially dangerous if you do not take proper care when preparing, cooking, and storing your Christmas feast.

According to the Food Safety Information Council, there are an estimated 5.4 million cases of food poisoning each year in Australia and one fifth of these cases are linked to practices in the home.

Symptoms can range from mild stomach pain and diarrhoea to serious vomiting and dehydration.

While anyone can experience foodborne illness, pregnant women, babies, the elderly and the infirm need to take particular care, as they have fragile immune systems.

To make sure everyone has a merry Christmas:

  • Separate raw and cooked food, as well as utensils and plates used in their preparation
  • Don’t leave food out. Germs thrive in temperatures between 5 and 60 degrees Celsius
  • Perishable food should be stored at or below 5 degrees Celsius
  • Ensure that cooked food remains heated to at least 60 degrees Celsius
  • Refrigerate any leftovers immediately and eat within 2-3 days

Seafood safety tips for the festive season



21 December 2012

Keep your family safe this festive season by following easy seafood safety tips, NSW Minister for Primary Industries Katrina Hodgkinson said today.

“It is critical that seafood is transported, stored and handled correctly to avoid food poisoning,” Ms Hodgkinson said.

“If food safety is compromised vulnerable groups such as young children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with chronic health conditions can be severely affected.

“It is important that anyone purchasing seafood this festive season follows the easy seafood safety tips.”

Shopping tips:

  • Only buy seafood from reputable retailers;
  • Take a cooler bag or esky to the store or fish markets;
  • Put your seafood straight into the fridge or freezer as soon as you get home; and
  • Store different types of seafood (e.g. prawns, oysters, raw fish) separately in air-tight containers so that juices cannot leak onto other foods.


  • Don’t eat strong off-smelling prawns;
  • For whole prawns make sure the head is firmly attached and the shell tight and shiny;
  • Store prawns separately from all other foods in an air-tight container; and
  • Eat prawns within three days of purchase or freeze them for up to 3 months.

Raw fish:

  • Must be fresh and of highest quality;
  • Ensure high standard of hygiene when handling; and
  • Do not eat raw fish that has been left unrefrigerated for more than two hours.




Listeria outbreak prompts cheese recall – The Age


A listeria outbreak has prompted a nation-wide recall of certain brands of soft cheeses.

Eight cases of listeria infection across Australia have found to be linked and a further three cases are under investigation, Victoria’s Department of Health said.

The state’s chief health officer Rosemary Lester said consumers should discard 1kg brie and camembert cheese branded Jindi, the 1kg Wattle Valley double brie and the 1kg Wattle Valley camembert with a best before date of December 21.

Dr Lester warned consumers to check the best before date of any Jindi or Wattle Valley soft cheeses.

“Consumers who have purchased a cut portion of camembert or brie from a supermarket or delicatessen who are unsure of the brand should discard it,” she said.

Two Victorians, three NSW residents and one person in Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia have been diagnosed with the infection.

The cheeses have been voluntarily recalled as a precaution.

Listeria infections usually only produce mild symptoms in healthy people, but can be dangerous to pregnant women, their unborn babies and elderly people, Dr Lester said.

“It can cause miscarriages in pregnant women and even death in people with compromised immune systems,” Dr Lester said.

“Investigations into listeria are complex as it can be difficult to identify the source.

“Symptoms of illness can take up to 70 days to appear.”

Read more:

December 18th 2012

Common Food Safety Myths


Urban myths surrounding food safety have persisted for years, despite being plainly untrue. In order to separate fact from fiction, here are eight of the most common myths still in circulation.

Myth 1: You can always smell or taste when food is ‘off’

This is not true. Although food that has spoiled often smells or tastes bad, not all bacteria are detectable to the human senses. Bacteria can contaminate food without you knowing it.

Myth 2: Hand sanitiser is as effective as hand washing

This is only partially true. Hand washing removes some bacteria as does sanitiser. However, when hands are soiled, it is best to use both methods; washing with liquid soap and drying with paper towels is most effective.

Myth 3: Food can be safely defrosted on the bench

This is not true. The Danger Zone for bacterial contamination is between 5ºC and 60ºC and room temperature falls within that range. The safest way to defrost food is in the refrigerator or, if needed quickly, in the microwave.

Myth 4: Mouldy food is okay to eat, if you remove the mould

No it isn’t. While some cheeses use mould in their manufacture; when mould appears on other types of food, it means that food is contaminated. Immature mould spores are invisible to the naked eye and are likely to be present in the rest of the food.

Myth 5: The 3, 5 or 10 Second Rule

Despite being the most common myth, there is no truth to it. It should be remembered instead as the Zero Second Rule, because it takes less than a second for food to become contaminated when dropped. The moment it touches the floor bacteria swarm all over it, so it should not be consumed.

Myth 6: There’s no need to wash produce if peeling it

This is untrue. The chemicals and contaminants present on fruit and vegetables can be transferred onto the internal layer during the peeling process, so produce should always be washed before and after peeling.

Myth 7: Chicken is safe to eat if it is pink

Regardless of colour, chicken must be cooked to an internal temperature of 75ºC to kill bacteria. Using a meat thermometer is always the safest way to determine whether chicken has been satisfactorily cooked.

Myth 8: Meat and poultry should be washed before cooking

Washing meat does not remove the risk of food borne illness and can cause cross-contamination instead. When rinsing meat and poultry, the blood juices and pathogens are washed into the sink, infecting the sink and often the surrounding food preparation area. Rather than washing meat and poultry, it is best to allow the cooking process to kill any bacteria present in fresh meat and poultry.

Are you a temporary or mobile business owner?

Owners of temporary and mobile food businesses in Victoria can now notify council online using Streatrader. Food businesses and community groups that sell food from a temporary site, such as a stall, van, trailer, community hall or vending machine legally operate a temporary or mobile food premises in Victoria must: •    register or notify your temporary and mobile food premises with one council in order to operate anywhere in Victoria •    lodge a statement of trade (SOT) to let all relevant councils know where and when you will be trading in their districts. •    You can use Streatrader to: •    find out whether you need to register or notify your van, stall, vending machines or water transport vehicle and what you need to pay (if anything) •    work out your food premises class and find out what you need to do (there are four classes of food premises: class 1 deals with the highest risk food and class 4 the lowest) •    find out which council is your principal council (and your main Food Act contact) •    register with or notify one council to operate anywhere in Victoria •    submit your statement of trade to each council in whose district you will be trading and give a copy to your principal council •    renew your food premises registration online and get reminder notices via email. You can now do this online