• Simple steps to avoid food poisoning over the hot months

    The Shire of Ashburton’s Building and Environmental Health Development Services Coordinator Antony Cox and his team, are reminding the community to follow some simple steps this summer to avoid potentially serious foodborne gastroenteritis.

    Each year in Australia there are 17.2 million cases of gastroenteritis with 5.4 million estimated to originate from contaminated food. This leads to 2.1 million days of lost work with 120 reported deaths annually due to foodborne illness.

    Mr Cox said while cooking at home, camping or enjoying barbeques and picnics, be mindful of safe food handling.
    “Wash your hands before preparing or eating food. If soap and water are not going to be available, remember to pack antibacterial wipes or hand rubs to clean your hands first,” he said.

    At barbeques and picnics, just as in a domestic kitchen, storing food at the correct temperature is vital to prevent harmful bacteria multiplying rapidly. Make sure that raw food is kept chilled prior to cooking and avoid exposing meat to direct sunlight for more than ten minutes.

    “On a hot Pilbara day bacteria will quickly multiply on a piece of raw meat. Cooking may not be sufficient to completely destroy the bugs that could then cause the gastroenteritis symptoms of vomiting and diarrhoea,” explains Mr Cox.

    “Always keep raw and cooked items separate and protect cooked food from further contamination by insects, by keeping it safely covered.”

    A marinade served as a sauce must always be brought to the boil before serving. This will destroy bacteria remaining from the meat that had been soaking earlier in the marinade.

    “Poultry, sausages and burgers should all be well cooked and never eaten if the meat is still pink or the juices not running completely clear”.

    Use a clean serving dish and tongs to transfer cooked food from the hot plate to the table. This will ensure cooked items have not been contaminated with bacteria from raw food.

    “Take great care when sharing space on public barbeque plates that your raw food does not come into contact with another person’s cooked food,” warns Mr Cox.

    On a recent visit to Onslow, Mr Cox had the opportunity to enjoy a delicious, safely cooked Sunday breakfast in the beautiful surroundings of the town community garden . Afterwards, under the watchful eyes of volunteer cooks Bonnie and Anita Palermo he rolled up his sleeves and left the equipment clean and ready for the next users to enjoy.

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