Don’t let food poisoning ruin your festive fun!

With a host of family gatherings, parties and barbeques with mates and work colleagues over the festive season, it is important to follow food safety tips to avoid your family members, friends or other guests getting food poisoning and ruining Christmas!

Joshua Heath, Acting Manager of Environmental Health at the Top End Health Service, said many family and friends bring dishes to share. Here are some simple planning tips that could protect your guests.

“Talk to them early to work out who will prepare what food. Arrange to cook the riskier foods like meat and turkey on site where the gathering or Christmas dinner is going to be,” Mr Heath said.

“It is a good idea to ask guests who are travelling for more than an hour to bring safer foods that don’t need refrigeration or keeping hot, such as cakes, biscuits and Christmas puddings. If they like to cook they can always come earlier and help you in your kitchen.

“Family members and friends living closer can bring hot food but need to ensure it travels in an insulated bag or container that keeps the food hot. They can also bring cold items like salads and desserts and these should be transported and packed into a cooler or esky straight from the fridge just before leaving the house. Surround the food with ice, ice bricks or frozen gel packs. Any raw meat or poultry should be packed at the bottom of the cooler in an enclosed plastic container so it is separate from other foods.”

Mr Heath said it was important to wash your hands regularly when handling food. Use running water and soap before, during and after preparing, cooking and serving food and dry your hands with paper towel

“Keep raw and cooked foods separate when storing and preparing food. Store raw meats, seafood and poultry in the bottom of the fridge on a drip tray. Do not over pack your fridge because this does not allow the cool air to circulate. If you don't have enough room in the fridge on the day of your BBQ or family gathering, consider using an esky and cover the food with plenty of ice.”

He said ensure that meat joints and meat products such as chicken, pork, sausages and hamburgers are cooked until juices run clear.

“If you have a food thermometer you can check the internal temperature, it is recommended to measure the thickest area of your meat products and the temperature should reach 75°C.  Never place cooked meat back on trays that held raw meat unless it has been properly cleaned and sanitised.

“Perishable foods such as salads, cold meats and quiches should be eaten quickly once they have been taken out of the fridge. Any leftovers should be returned to the fridge as soon as possible. Mr Heath said.

“After a big Christmas lunch there is often lots of leftovers. The longer food is kept out at room temperature the higher the risk of bacteria growing to dangerous levels.”

“Refrigerate leftovers immediately, cover them or store them in sealed containers. If your leftover foods such as meat, seafood and dairy products have been left out the fridge for more than 4 hours, they should be thrown out and not placed back into the fridge.

You should only reheat leftover food once. Food should be quickly reheated and steaming hot all the way through,” Mr Heath said.

“Most of all, if in doubt, throw it out!”

For further information on food safety and entertaining click here and for tips on storing all your food in the fridge read this.

Food Safety tips:

  • Wash your hands regularly before, during and after preparing, cooking and serving food
  • Keep raw and cooked foods separate when storing and preparing food
  • Store raw meats, seafood and poultry in the bottom of the fridge
  • Do not over pack your fridge
  • If you don't have enough room in the fridge on the day of your BBQ or family gathering, consider using a esky and cover food with plenty of ice
  • Cook meat until juices run clear
  • If you have a food thermometer the temperature of meat should reach 75°C
  • Never place cooked meat back on trays that held raw meat
  • Avoid keeping perishable foods such as salads, cold meats and quiches out of the fridge for long periods of time. If it has been longer than 4 hours, throw them out.

Tips for leftovers:

  • Refrigerate leftovers immediately, cover them or store them in sealed containers
  • Throw out meat, seafood and dairy products that have been left out the fridge for more than 4 hours
  • Only reheat food once.
  • Food should be quickly reheated and steaming hot all the way through
  • If in doubt, throw it out!

Contact: Russel Guse

Phone: 0436 933 810

Last updated: 17 December 2019

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