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It’s Food Safety Week, and Ballina Shire Council is urging everyone to take food poisoning seriously.

‘Food poisoning is more than a minor stomach upset, it can be life threatening, especially for the elderly, pregnant women and their unborn babies, as well as people with compromised immune systems,’ said Sue Anderson, Council’s Environmental Health Officer (Food Specialist).

‘This year for Australian Food Safety Week 2020 we will be building on good hygiene established during the COVID-19 pandemic to reduce the amount of food-borne disease.’

helping hands

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Everyone’s responsibility

Ms Anderson suggests that people follow five simple food safety tips to minimise food poisoning risks:

1. CLEAN – wash hands with soap and running water before handling food and between handling raw foods and ready to eat foods, wash up regularly, especially items which have been used for raw meat and poultry, and keep the kitchen surfaces & fridge clean.

2. CHILL – keep the fridge at 5°C or below, refrigerate any leftovers as soon as they’ve stopped steaming and use within 2-3 days (or within one day for people at higher risk of foodborne illness including pregnant women, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems) or freeze them immediately.

3. COOK – use a thermometer and cook poultry, sausages, minced or stuffed meat dishes to 75°C in the centre; be aware of the risk of raw or minimally cooked egg dishes or look for the new pasteurised eggs. Follow any cooking instructions on the food packaging. Remember, microwave ovens can cook unevenly. Make sure you follow the recommended stirring and standing times before serving.

4. SEPARATE – prevent cross contamination, especially between raw meat, seafood, fish or poultry and ready to eat foods like cooked meats, desserts and salads.

5. DON’T COOK FOR OTHERS IF YOU HAVE GASTRO or feel unwell – you could make them sick too – so ask someone else to cook or get a takeaway.

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Learning opportunities

Ms Anderson said, ‘In a post COVID-19 environment, we want to help young people better understand about food safety for both their health and for helping their future employment opportunities.

‘The Food Safety Information Council has partnered with educational company First for Training to make online food safety basic training courses affordable and available as well as meeting our long-term aim of getting course material into schools,’ she said.

Schools can access the training resources here.

You can find out more about food safety, test your knowledge and take the food safety quiz on the Food Safety Information Council website.