27 September 2023

Warm weather threatens food safety

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The Department of Health is using Australian Food Safety Week to warn the public to take care when storing and preparing food.

The Department’s Managing Scientist for Food, Peter Gray said the warmer temperatures provided a favourable environment for bacterial contaminants in food to thrive and multiply.

“There were more than 5,000 reports of infectious diseases that caused gastroenteritis in 2021 in WA,” Mr Gray said.

“Of these the two most commonly reported diseases were campylobacteriosis and salmonellosis, both of which can be caused by eating raw or minimally cooked foods,” he said.

“Preventable food-borne illness cost Western Australians and the WA health system an estimated $53 million last year, so Food Safety Week is a timely reminder about the risk of food-borne illness ahead of the warmer summer months.”

He said safety advice included cooking chicken thoroughly to at least 75⁰C, with beef and lamb to at least 63⁰C and pork to between 70⁰C and 75⁰C.

“Never wash raw chicken,” Mr Gray said.

“It can spread bacteria from the chicken all around the kitchen and food preparation areas — and don’t let raw chicken meat or juices come into contact with other foods,” he said.

“Also, use different cutting boards and utensils when preparing chicken or other meats for cooking and wrap raw chicken before storing it in the fridge — and place it on the bottom shelf to ensure juices don’t drip onto other food items,” the Department’s Managing Scientist for Food said.

Australian Food Safety Week 2022 is to run until 19 November.

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