A Guide To Avoiding Food Poisoning This Festive Season

We've put together a few tips to keep in mind during these delicious months of feasting.

Whether you're preparing for a summer picnic, a family BBQ, Christmas lunch or just cooking for yourself -- it's important to avoid the risk of food poisoning.

And while contracting listeria can be extremely dangerous -- there's a much higher risk of being infected with salmonella, according to NSW Health.

The nasty type of gastroenteritis can make cause fever, headache, diarrhoea and vomiting -- and can be especially harmful to young babies and the elderly.

So, with that in mind, here are a few key rules to keep in mind to avoid making your loved ones sick this Christmas.

Keep Those Hands Nice And Clean

Cutting corners won't do you any favours, a quick splash under the tap will not get rid of germs. Make sure you take the time to give your hands a good 15-20 second scrub with soap and running water before you handle any food, and after you’ve used the bathroom or handled rubbish. According to SA Health, hand hygiene is one of the “most effective ways of stopping the spread of infection”.

Refrain From Rinsing Your Poultry

Don't give your chicken or turkey a rinse before you start prepping it for the oven -- it'll do more harm than good.

“That washing process can really only increase risk,” North Carolina State University's Benjamin Chapman told the New York Times. 

Chapman added that only cooking has the power to kill certain pathogens -- washing will only cross-contaminate hands, your cooking surfaces and utensils.

READ MORE: Urgent Recall On Christmas Ham Over Listeria Contamination 

Keep Your Eyes On The Temperature (And The Time )
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Do keep an eye on your refrigerator and oven temperatures as you prep food for family and friends this summer and jot down these key temperatures to remember when working with hot and cold foods. 

“Refrigerated food should be kept below five degrees and hot foods should be kept above 60 degrees," said Dr Vicky Sheppeard, the Director of Communicable Diseases at NSW Health.

READ MORE: We Guarantee You Will See Most Of These On Your Table This Christmas

And keep in mind that the clock is ticking once you've laid out your spectacular glazed ham or served up that salad with a mayonnaise dressing. 

"It’s a good rule of thumb that if food requiring temperature control has been sitting on your table for more than two hours, you should throw it out," said Dr Sheppeard. 

That goes for bringing a plate to a picnic or bbq this summer -- make sure your delish salmon hors d'œuvres are chilling in an esky if you've got a long car/train/bus/ferry/plane trip ahead of you.

Follow This Egg-cellent Advice
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Ah, eggs. Where would our summer pavlovas, Christmas cookies, garlic aiolis, and whisky sours be without them? But they can also serve us up a nasty case of food poisoning if we're not super careful about how we buy and use them this summer.

Look out for cracked and dirty eggs when you're at the supermarket -- salmonella can often be lurking on the surface, according to NSW Health.  

“Consuming products containing undercooked eggs and spreading germs in the kitchen are the most common sources of salmonellosis outbreaks in NSW,” Dr Sheppeard said.

Raw eggs are usually safe to eat if they've been handled correctly before they make it to your trolley but beware of scoffing that raw cookie dough during your baking session.

Keep Your Workstation Clean!

If MasterChef has taught us anything, it's that you will get yourself into trouble if you turn your workspace into a disaster zone of stray vegetable peelings, dripping kitchen whisks, scattered flour and dirty chopping boards. Not only will you end up with a disappointing dish, but there's a real risk of cross-contamination and making your guests very ill.

Keep these ~golden rules~  from the NSW Food Authority in mind to keep your kitchen spaces clean and avoid giving your loved ones salmonella.

  • Separate raw meat and poultry from cooked and ready to eat food
  • Use clean plates and utensils
  • Don't let raw meat juices drip onto other food
  • Don't pour uncooked meat marinade on ready-to-eat food
Constant Vigilance!

No one wants to end up with an upset stomach or a trip to the hospital this festive season -- so just remember these simple rules to avoid food poisoning.

Keep it cold, keep it hot, keep it clean and check the label!

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