'Tis the season to avoid food poisoning
Preparing a holiday feast can take weeks of planning, as you consider recipes, ingredients and your guests’ dietary requirements. In order to serve your friends and family a delicious meal that keeps them coming back for more, food safety guidelines need to be part of the recipe.
According to Food Authority NSW, an estimated 4.1 million Australians are affected by food poisoning each year, with food poisoning associated with an average of 120 deaths per annum. Queensland Health reports that there are approximately 230,000 cases of Campylobacter and 55,000 cases of Salmonella each year, with the total annual cost of foodborne illnesses reaching $1.249 billion.
“The most common calls that the Tennessee Poison Centre receives this time of year involve children coming into contact with raw poultry or uncooked baking mix, putting them at risk for exposure to Campylobacter or Salmonella. It’s pretty scary to look over and see your toddler chewing on a raw piece of chicken,” said Justin Loden, Pharm. D., certified specialist in poison information at the Tennessee Poison Centre.
The Vanderbilt University Medical Center has provided the following tips to help with food preparation:
- When preparing meals, it is important to keep young children out of the kitchen, and limit the spread of germs by washing your hands, kitchen surfaces, utensils and cutting boards frequently with hot soapy water.
- It is also imperative to wash your hands after handling uncooked food and before touching or eating other foods.
- Washing eggs, meat or poultry when preparing meals is discouraged, as it can spread harmful bacteria.
- Meat, poultry, seafood and eggs should also be kept separate from all other foods.
- Use the microwave, cold water or refrigerator to defrost frozen meat or poultry.
- When cooking meals, a quick-response thermometer can be used to ensure that foods are thoroughly cooked or reheated.
- The safest way to cook stuffing is outside the turkey in a casserole dish; however, if you prefer to cook your stuffing inside the turkey, it is recommended that you stuff the turkey just before cooking and make sure the stuffing reaches a minimum internal temperature of 73°C.
- The bacteria that causes food poisoning multiplies quickest at temperatures between 4.5 and 60°C. Be sure to refrigerate leftovers within two hours at 4.5°C or below to reduce bacterial growth.
- Leftover turkey meat should be taken off the turkey and stored in the refrigerator; an entire carcass placed in the refrigerator will not cool down quickly enough.
- Avoid cross-contamination by completely and securely covering foods when placed in the refrigerator, and consume or freeze leftovers within three to four days.
If you experience symptoms of food poisoning, drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration and seek medical assistance if needed.
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