As the academic year begins and students return to campus young people are urged to learn more about food safety

As the academic year begins, the Food Safety Information Council is urging young people who are leaving home to start university or college to learn more about food safety.

Council Spokesperson, Lydia Buchtmann, said the last thing you want to get when starting out at Uni is a nasty bout of food poisoning, when it can be avoided.

‘There are an estimated 4.1 million cases of food poisoning in Australia each year and a case of gastro can seriously ruin the fun of those first few months away from home.

‘We especially want students to focus on handwashing as our research late last year found a 15% decrease in the number of times in Australians washed or sanitised their hands a day, on average, since the same time the previous year

‘We recommend you take our simple, affordable Food Safety Essentials on line course, developed by our member Highfield elearning. This will give you give you the basic understanding about how to keep that shared fridge and kitchen safe, as well as how to safely store and reheat leftovers that accumulate in student or shared accommodation.

‘The added bonus of doing the course is you will also get a certificate for successfully completing our additional Top Up and Level 1 food safety courses, which may help you get employment in the competitive world of food service. We know many young people supplement their income working in the food industry and having some knowledge can really help you nail that job (you might even be able to get your parents to pay for it!)

‘We have prepared a simple poster which can be downloaded from here (and put up in those shared kitchens) containing five simple tips, to ensure that you, and people you prepare food for, are protected from food poisoning:

  1. CLEAN – wash hands with soap and running water before handling food, wash the dishes regularly and keep the kitchen clean
  2. CHILL – keep the fridge at 5°C or below and clean it out regularly, refrigerate any leftovers as soon as they’ve stopped steaming and use or freeze them within 3 days
  3. COOK – use a thermometer and cook poultry, sausages or minced or stuffed meat dishes to 75°C in the centre, be aware of the risk of raw or minimally cooked egg dishes or look for the new pasteurised eggs. Follow any cooking instructions on the food packaging.
  4. SEPARATE – prevent cross contamination, especially between raw meat or poultry and other foods that won’t be cooked like ready to eat desserts and salads
  5. DON’T COOK FOR OTHERS IF YOU HAVE GASTRO – you could make them sick too so ask someone else to cook or get a takeaway.

‘We encourage universities, colleges and student bodies to share this advice with students,’ Ms Buchtmann  concluded.

Media contact:

Lydia Buchtmann, Food Safety Information Council, 0407 626 688 or