When food gets funky

Remember, food poisoning may lurk in ill-stored picnic goodies.
Remember, food poisoning may lurk in ill-stored picnic goodies.

IF YOU'VE ever eaten some dodgy chicken, you'll know only too well the agonies of food poisoning.

Every year more than five million Australians are affected by food borne illness, according to the Food Safety Council Australia.

It says illnesses such as food poisoning are becoming more common as our lifestyles change - we eat out more and more food is being prepared in advance.

Here's some tips from the council for avoiding nasty bacteria in food.

1. Choose your supermarket or grocer carefully. Check for cleanliness.

Dirty staff and conditions in public areas may be a clue that things are worse behind the scenes.

2. Shop for non-perishable food first - leave the fridges and freezers to the end of your shopping.

Also shop last for hot cooked foods such as BBQ chicken. Keep hot foods separated from frozen and chilled products.

3. Don't buy food with damaged packaging.

This can provide an entry for bacteria.

4. Always check use by dates marked on perishable foods.

Remember that unsafe food may still look, smell and taste good. If in doubt, don't buy it.

5. When buying food from the deli counter, ensure staff use separate tongs or gloves for raw and ready-to-eat foods.

Avoid shops where cooked or other ready-to-eat food (eg seafood, cooked poultry or deli meats) are displayed adjacent to raw products or are served with the same utensils used for the raw products.

6. Ask the check-out operator to pack raw meats and poultry in a separate bag from other products.

7. If possible, carry your food home in the air-conditioned part of your car in hot weather, not in the boot.

8. If you have to travel for over 30 minutes, it's a good idea to place your chilled and frozen foods into an insulated cooler for the trip home.

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Eating Outdoors

Summer time means more outdoor barbecues and picnics.

Unfortunately that also carries risks such as food poisoning.

To protect yourself from an upset tummy:

  • Store prepared foods as close to five degrees as possible because they will be eaten without reheating. Always pack plenty of ice blocks, frozen bricks or gel packs around the food.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly before touching food.
  • Avoid food contacting public picnic tables - take a cloth.
  • Cook sausages, hamburgers or chicken right through.
  • Keep all ready to eat food covered until you are ready to eat it. This will protect it from contamination by flies, etc.
  • Use a clean plate and clean utensils for cooked meat. Never re-use the same ones you used for the raw meat without washing them.
  • Don't pack food for a picnic if it has just been cooked and is still warm. Coolers cannot cool food enough to prevent bacteria growing.


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Topics:  food food poisoning health lifestyle

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