Health warning: Is your food safe to eat?

By | December 29, 2018

As temperatures rise across the state, so does the risk of getting food poisoning.

There were 252 reported cases of salmonella or food poisoning in November, according to one authority – the Southern NSW Local Health District.

Find out about the symptoms and how to keep your food safe during the warmer months.

The symptoms

The symptoms of food poisoning. Photo: SNSWLHD

The symptoms of food poisoning. Photo: SNSWLHD

Food poisoning occurs, “after eating contaminated food or sometimes after contact with another person with the infection,” according to NSW Health.

Symptoms often start within six to 72 hours after infection and last for four to seven days, sometimes longer.

Do you know how to store food correctly?

Here are some quick and simple ways to prevent the contamination of food and from food poisoning spreading.

Thorough cooking of food kills salmonella. Avoid raw or undercooked meat, poultry or eggs. Poultry and meat, such as hamburgers and sausages should not be eaten if pink in the middle.

Food handling

Salmonella can be carried on the hands, so it is very important to always wash your hands thoroughly after using the toilet and before preparing food.

Hands should be washed with soap and water for at least ten seconds, rinsed and dried well. Particular attention should be given to the area under the fingernails and between fingers.

Infected food handlers can shed large numbers of salmonella. They should not handle or serve food until 48 hours after the diarrhoea has stopped.

Temperature control

Poor food storage can allow salmonella to grow:

  • Refrigerated food should be kept at less than five degrees Celsius.
  • Hot foods should be kept hot at above 60 degrees Celsius.
  • Reheated foods should be quickly reheated until all parts of the food are steaming hot.
  • Thawing frozen foods should be done in a fridge or microwave.

The longer you leave food at room temperature, the more salmonella can multiply.

Food contamination

To prevent the contamination of food:

  • Store raw foods (such as meat) in sealed containers in the bottom of the fridge or freezer to prevent any fluid dripping or spilling onto other ready-to-eat food. Cover all food in the refrigerator and freezer to protect them from contamination.
  • Wash hands immediately after going to the toilet or handling raw foods and before handling cooked or ready-to-eat food.
  • Use different chopping boards, trays, utensils and plates when preparing raw foods and ready-to-eat food. If you have only one chopping board, wash it well in hot, soapy water before reusing it.
  • Thoroughly wash all dirt off any raw vegetables and fruits before preparing and eating them.
  • Dry dishes with a different cloth to that used for wiping hands or bench tops and wash dish cloths regularly.

“Most people recover with rest and fluids,” according to NSW Health.

However, if your symptoms persist or you are concerned, see your general practitioner. In the case of an emergency, call 000.

  • Source: NSW Health

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