Don’t give your family Food Poisoning – Food Safety Tips for Christmas

Media release:19 December 2006

Hon Christopher Pyne MP

Christmas is a great time to bring family and friends together, but a risky period for food poisoning, the Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing, Christopher Pyne, said today.

“There are an estimated 5.4 million cases of food poisoning in Australia each year, and none of us want relatives and friends to be among them,” Mr Pyne said when launching the Food Safety Information Council’s Christmas Food Safety Campaign.

“Statistics show that the risk of food poisoning increases with the hot weather, and people are also more likely to be cooking for those at risk, such as the elderly, the very young and pregnant women.”

Mr Pyne said there were a some simple but effective techniques that people should apply when prepared food over the festive season.

‘You can defrost the turkey in the fridge, or ask your butcher to defrost it in the coolroom, but make sure it is completely defrosted in the centre before you cook it.

“It’s OK to defrost a turkey on the benchtop, but to ensure any bacteria are killed, you must make sure it is thoroughly cooked all the way through – use a meat thermometer to check that the temperature in the thickest part reaches 75°C. Stuffing slows down cooking and cooling, so it is best cooked separately.

“Before preparing food for Christmas, make sure that there is enough room in the fridge to keep cold food at or less than 5oC. If there is not enough room, remember that soft drinks and alcohol, pickles, jams and other acidic condiments don’t need refrigeration to remain safe. Drinks can be kept cold in an esky with ice.

“Prepare foods as close as possible to eating time. Use separate cutting boards and utensils for raw meats and ready-to-eat foods. Cook foods properly. All rolled and stuffed roasts, poultry, sausages and mince dishes need to be fully cooked. Steaks, chops and solid pieces of meat can be eaten rare.

“If you cook large amounts of food in advance, divide it into smaller portions or put it in shallow containers, cover and place it in the fridge or freezer. Make sure there is good air circulation around the containers.

“Refrigerate leftovers immediately after the meal. Never store leftovers on the kitchen bench, and use refrigerated leftovers within two to three days. When reheating food, ensure that it is steaming hot all the way through – it should reach at least 75 oC.

“With proper handling, the Christmas ham will keep for several weeks. It should be removed from its plastic wrap, and covered with clean cloth soaked in water and vinegar so it doesn’t dry out. People should follow any instructions on the packaging and store it in the fridge below 5 °C. Reduced-salt hams are now becoming popular but will not last as long as conventional hams, so follow any instructions on the packaging.

“Before preparing foods and between handling raw meat or raw chicken, people should remember to wash their hands thoroughly with soap and warm water, and dry them thoroughly. If you follow this advice you and your family and friends will have a much safer Christmas,” Mr Pyne said

About the Food Safety Information Council

The Food Safety Information Council is a partnership of government agencies, industry and professional groups which has the objective of educating consumers about safe food handling practices.

A wide range of material, including tips for picnics and barbecues, can be found on the Food Safety Information Council website,

Media Contacts: Adam Howard Mr Pyne’s Office 0400 414 83

LydiaBuchtmann, FSANZ 02 6271 2620 or 0401 714 265

Tania Bradley Food Safety Information Council 0407 626 688