Food safety at home

Most food handling tips are straightforward, but many people still don’t heed the guidance. By following unsanitary food practices at home, food can become easily contaminated or go off before it needs to – and increase your risk of getting food poisoning. So here’s what the food and safety authorities advise as safe food handling practice.

Handling food safely

These basic food-handling tips will help you reduce the risk of food poisoning:

  • wash your hands and fingernails thoroughly with warm running water and soap before you prepare food
  • avoid handling food when you are unwell
  • keep raw meats, poultry and seafood separate from cooked food and food to be eaten raw
  • to reduce the risk of cross contamination, store food in the refrigerator in closed containers or covered with plastic wrap
  • use clean utensils, plates or containers to prevent contaminating cooked food or food that will be eaten raw
  • use clean equipment, rather than hands, to pick up food
  • properly wash with water any fruit and vegetables to be eaten raw
  • cook food thoroughly, especially minced meat, burger patties, sausages, rolled roasts, stuffed meats, rabbit, seafood and poultry.

Hot food

To prevent food poisoning from hot food:

  • keep it at 60ºC or above until served
  • refrigerate or freeze food that is to be prepared well in advance and reheat to steaming hot before serving
  • only when hot food has stopped steaming should you place it in the fridge or freezer
  • divide large quantities of food into small, shallow containers for faster cooling
  • reheat as quickly as possible until steaming hot
  • cook or reheat packaged food according to any directions on the label.

Cold food

To prevent food poisoning from cold food:

  • take cold groceries home to the refrigerator as quickly as possible
  • keep chilled and frozen food cold (e.g. in an insulated bag or with ice) if it will be a long time before it can be placed in a refrigerator or freezer
  • store cold food at 5ºC or below
  • thaw frozen food in the refrigerator or microwave, not on the kitchen bench
  • do not refreeze food once it has been defrosted
  • store and handle cold food according to any directions on the label
  • regularly check the temperature of the refrigerator.

Read more at Queensland Government and the Food Safety Information Council.

Do you have any food poisoning stories? Can you trace back to how it happened?

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