11 November 2008
In launching National Food Safety Week 2008, Food Safety Information Council Chairman, Dr Michael Eyles, today congratulated Australians on their adventurous spirit in adopting such a wide array of foods in their diets, but warned that with all adventures there are risks.
“Variety is one key to healthy eating – being food smart is another”, Dr Eyles said “The food safety risks in trying the unfamiliar can be significantly decreased through greater knowledge in selecting, preparing and storing foods.
“40 years ago cookbooks listed pizza under international food, a curry was a casserole with a teaspoon of ‘curry powder’ from a small orange can, coconut milk was boiled fresh milk with desiccated coconut added, using chilli meant you’d travelled to ‘the far East’, a preference for salami over devon white bread sandwiches indicated your ‘Mother tongue’ was probably not English, and prawns usually involved cocktails at a wedding.
“How things have changed! Today fewer Australian households see well done meat and three veg as a menu definer. Stir fries, sushi, prawns on the barbie, and curry preparation involving a stone mortar and pestle are not out of the ordinary.
“We’re more inclined to have our food raw or lightly cooked. Descriptions of salads as ‘rabbit food’ and the making of mooing sounds if the roast beef is pink in the middle are fading. Eating outdoors is a common delight.
“This is all welcomed, but as the Food Safety Information Council points out meal preparation involving light cooking and longer periods for food to be in the Temperature Danger Zone increase the risk of bacteria surviving causing the consumer to perhaps become one of the more than 5 million Australians who suffer from food borne illnesses each year.
“The Council’s basic food safety tips – Cook, Clean, Chill and Separate – are still as relevant as ever, but when on an adventure some extra thought is needed. For instance, when cooking stir fry meat needs cooking on all surfaces before vegetables are added. Rabbit is again becoming popular, but it along with other small animals should be treated like chicken and always cooked through until the juices run clear.
“The increasing varieties of meats, fruits and vegetables becoming available through the innovations in our primary industries and the influence of new Australians provide wonderful new textures and taste but can require extra care when choosing, preparing and cooking to take into account the traditional preparation and cooking steps which made the food safe.
“Educating ourselves by discussing correct preparation and storage of foods with retailers and restaurateurs, reading labels, surfing the web is extremely worthwhile particularly if we’re creating at home the fantastic sushi, curry, or vegie stack experienced when out.
“Even foods many of us have eaten for years may need revisiting. Australian pork is only safe if well done is now a myth. It’s perfectly safe to eat it slightly pink in the middle.
“Eating outdoors, as so many of us enjoy, requires extra planning to ensure food is kept chilled for as long as possible, and is cooked properly. Importantly, if food is out of the fridge or cooler and in the Temperature Danger Zone for more than two hours food poisoning bacteria can begin to grow. After four hours the food should be discarded. Bottom line: when in doubt, throw it out!
“It’s a new delicious world and to celebrate it the Food Safety Information Council has provided web links to many of our innovative and informative organisations researching, promoting and in many other ways providing us with the opportunity to have real and exciting food adventures. Visit foodsafety.asn.au ,” Dr Eyles said
The basic food safety keys are:
- Avoid the temperature danger zone – serve hot food steaming hot. Put leftovers into the fridge as soon as they stop steaming. Chill all food as soon as possible after cooking or buying. Make sure your fridge is clean, uncluttered and 5°C or below. Ask for ice when buying seafood.
- Cook chicken, rabbit, sausages, minced meat dishes, hamburgers, rolled and stuffed meats right through, until the juices run clear.
- Separate foods that are raw such as chicken, meat and dirty vegetables from foods that are ready to eat such as salads, cooked meats etc. Make sure raw chicken and meat are stored below other foods in the fridge to avoid cross contamination.
- Keep cooking utensils and all surfaces your food will touch scrupulously clean to avoid contamination with food poisoning bacteria and viruses.
- Clean your hands. Hands should be washed with soap under warm, running water for 20 seconds and dried for 20 seconds.
MEDIA CONTACT: Juliana Madden, Food Safety Information Council firstname.lastname@example.org 02 6239 7320 or 0417 491 139