10 November 2015

Was it the last thing you ate that made you sick? – busting the food safety myths

Australian Food Safety Week 8 – 15 November 2015

Consumers in Western Australia are urged not to become one of the estimated 4.1 million people who get food poisoning in Australia each year.

Department of Health Food Unit Manager Stan Goodchild said that there are many myths about food poisoning so this year the focus of Australian Food Safety Week is to bust some of these myths.

“For example, did you know that if you get food poisoning it may not have been the last thing you ate? Sometimes symptoms can take several days or weeks to appear.

“Did you know that the often quoted ‘five second rule’ (that you can pick up food dropped on the floor and eat it if it has been there less than five seconds) just isn’t true? Bacteria don’t keep a stopwatch and wait before contaminating the food.

“Finally, did you know that food poisoning isn’t a mild illness? Each year an estimated 1 million Australians have to visit a doctor with food poisoning, 32,000 people end up in hospital and 86 people die.”

Consumers can reduce risks by following these simple tips:

  • Clean – wash hands with running water and soap then dry hands thoroughly before starting to cook and after handling raw meat or chicken.
  • Chill – transport your chilled or frozen food home from the shops in a cooler bag or esky. Use a fridge thermometer to make sure your fridge is running at or below 5ºC. Refrigerate leftovers promptly. Cooked food should be stored in covered containers and either put in the fridge to cool, or frozen immediately. Frozen foods should be defrosted in the fridge or microwave not on the kitchen bench.
  • Cook – cook chicken, minced or boned meats, hamburger, stuffed meats and sausages right through until they reach 75°C using a meat thermometer. Serve hot food steaming hot above 60ºC. Always follow cooking instructions on packaged foods.
  • Separate – food should be stored in covered containers in the fridge and put raw meats and poultry in the bottom of the fridge so the juices don’t contaminate food on lower shelves. Don’t put cooked meat back on the plate the raw meat was on.

Tips, information, interactive games and common food myths on food safety can be found on the Healthy WA website (external site).

“We also encourage everyone to take the Food Safety Quiz on the Food Safety Information Council website (external site) and test their knowledge about the safest action to protect you and your family,” Mr Goodchild concluded.

Media contacts:

  • Interview/talkback opportunities: A WA Health senior scientific officer (food safety) is available during business hours Wednesday 11 November – Friday 13 November to answer caller questions on food safety.

Media contact: (08) 9222 4333

Follow us on Twitter: @WAHealth

or Lydia Buchtmann, Food Safety Information Council, 0407 626 688.

The Food Safety Information Council is Australia’s leading disseminator of consumer-targeted food safety information and a health promotion charity. Australian Food Safety Week is the major activity of the Food Safety Information Council.