Do you pass the food safety test (answers)

1. There are an estimated 4.1 million cases of food borne illness in Australia each year which gives you a chance of getting food poisoning roughly once every 5 years. If you chose answer (c), give yourself 2 points.

2. Refrigerators should operate at 5 degrees Celsius or less, so if you chose answer (d), give yourself two points. If you didn’t, you’re not alone. According to recent research many people overlook the importance of maintaining an appropriate refrigerator temperature.

Measure the temperature with a thermometer and, if needed, adjust the refrigerator’s temperature control dial. A temperature of 5 degrees Celsius or below is important because it slows the growth of most bacteria. The temperature won’t kill the bacteria, but it will keep them from multiplying, and the fewer there are, the less likely you are to get sick from them. Freezing food stops bacteria growing. Freezers should operate at minus 18 degrees Celsius or below.

3. Hot food should be refrigerated as soon as possible – as soon as the food has stopped steaming. Avoid leaving it for more than two hours after cooking and don’t forget to cover the food. Not only will it keep it’s quality better, but it prevents other bacteria contaminating it. If you picked answer (c), you get 2 points.

If you’ve forgotten about food and it has been at room temperature for more than four hours, throw it away.

Leftovers generally remain safe when refrigerated for two to three days. If in doubt, throw it out. It’s not worth a food-borne illness for the small amount of food usually involved.

4. If you chose (e) you get four points. Score one point of each of (a), (b), (c) and (d).

Any food containing minced meat can cause problems if not cooked right through – above 75°C. in the centre. Even if well cooked, bacterial spores can survive, grow and cause food poisoning if not stored correctly.

Chicken, especially if it contains stuffing must also be cooked thoroughly – right through the stuffing in the centre to kill bacteria. Again, spores can survive the cooking process and so it must also be stored correctly.

Dishes such as rice salad or pasta salad can be just as dangerous as meat dishes. Dried rice and pasta contain bacteria which produce spores which can survive the cooking process. These  spores can germinate and the bacteria grow if the rice or pasta salads are then stored at room temperature. Always keep such dishes refrigerated.

5. If answer (c) or (d) best describes your household’s practice, give yourself two points.

If you picked (a), you’re forgetting an important food safety rule: Never allow raw meat, poultry and fish to come in contact with other foods that won’t be further cooked. Answer (b) isn’t good, either. Insufficient cleaning, such as with a damp cloth, will not remove bacteria or other micro-organisms.

6. You get 2 points if you answered (c) (well done). If you answered (a), you may be putting yourself at risk of food poisoning. Undercooked minced meat can be dangerous as bacteria multiply rapidly in minced meats and if not thoroughly cooked, as food poisoning bacteria will not be destroyed during the cooking process. Check your burgers, sausages and minced meat products with a meat thermometer – they are safely cooked if above 75°C. in the centre.

7. Either (b) or (c) earns you two points. Water alone may get rid of visible dirt, but is not sufficient to get rid of bacteria. Bleach and similar kitchen sanitising agents can be used after each time you have prepared food directly on the benchtop – provided they’re diluted according to product directions. Surfaces should also be allowed to dry.

Also, be sure to keep dishcloths and sponges clean and dry between uses because, when wet, these materials harbour bacteria and may promote their growth. You can also soak dishcloths and sponges in diluted bleach and remember to replace them regularly.

8. Answers (a) (c) and (d) are worth two points each. There are potential problems with (b) When you let dishes sit in water for a long time, it creates a soup. The food left on the dish contributes nutrients for bacteria, so the bacteria will multiply. If you do leave dishes to soak, always wash them in clean, hot water with detergent. If you use a tea towel, make sure it is clean and dry and also replace when worn.

9. The only correct practice is answer (c). Give yourself two points if you picked it.

Wash hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food, especially after handling poultry or raw meat

10. Give yourself two points if you picked (b) or (c). Food safety experts recommend thawing all foods in the refrigerator or the microwave oven but it is most important with cooked ready-to-eat foods. Gradual defrosting overnight is best because it helps maintain the quality of raw foods.

When defrosting in the microwave, follow package directions. Leave about 5 centimetres between the food and the inside surface of the microwave to allow microwaves to circulate. Smaller items will defrost more evenly than larger pieces of food. Cook the food a short time after defrosting in the microwave.

Marinate food in the refrigerator, not on the counter. Discard or cook (bring to the boil and simmer a few minutes) the marinade after use because it contains raw juices, which may harbour bacteria. If you want to use the marinade as a dip or sauce, reserve a portion before adding any raw food.

Rating Your Home’s Food Practices

18-22 points : Well done. Feel confident about the safety of foods served in your home.

12 to 18 points : Pretty good. but you may need to re-examine food safety practices in your home as some key rules are not being followed.

11 points or below : Risky. We suggest you take steps immediately to correct food handling, storage and cooking techniques used in your home. Current practices are putting you and other members of your household in danger of food-borne illness.