Eight ways to avoid food poisoning this Christmas

RISKY: A chicken curry dish may not have been kept adequately warm.
RISKY: A chicken curry dish may not have been kept adequately warm. BUNKEN

NO ONE wants to be sick around Christmas time.

To avoid the memory of Christmas lunch being ruined forever, the Wide Bay Hospital & Health Service (WBHHS) has put together a list of tips to keep your prawns and egg salad out of the bacteria danger zone.

1. Keep raw poultry and meat separate from other foods.

Make sure juices don't drip onto other food in the refrigerator. Use separate chopping boards for poultry/meat and other foods, or clean chopping boards and knives well with hot soapy water between uses.

2. Don't wash the bird!

Washing poultry increases the risk of food poisoning by splashing germs around the kitchen. Thorough cooking will kill any bacteria that might be present.

3. Discard cracked or dirty eggs.

Don't serve foods containing raw eggs to children less than 2 years of age, pregnant women, people over 65 years of age and those with serious illness. To minimise risk, cook eggs until the white is completely firm and yolks begin to thicken.

Discard cracked and dirty eggs.
Discard cracked and dirty eggs. Brenda Strong

4. Plan ahead.

If you are catering for a lot of people, prepare food as close as you can to the time you will serve it. To prevent food-borne germs multiplying in food, cold food needs to be kept chilled below 5˚C and hot foods need to be kept above 60°C until ready to serve. Remember to defrost food in the refrigerator or microwave.

5. Keep your fridge at or below 5°C.

Use a fridge thermometer to check that the fridge temperature stays around 2˚C to 5°C. Make sure you have sufficient room in the fridge to allow cold air to circulate. If your fridge is running out of space, consider moving foods that are not potentially hazardous, such as canned food and drinks, to a separate fridge or esky with ice.

6. Divide cooked food to cool.

Freshly cooked food that will not be consumed immediately should have the temperature reduced as quickly as possible. Divided the food into smaller air tight containers and placed into a fridge or freezer as soon as it stops steaming.

Divide cooked food to cool.
Divide cooked food to cool. Chris Chan GLA141011MENT

7. Keep food on the move cool.

If you are transporting perishable refrigerated and/or frozen food around (e.g. in a car), always use a cooler bag or esky with frozen ice-bricks or ice.

8. If in doubt throw it out.

If perishable food has been in the temperature danger zone (5˚C to 60˚C) for 2 to 4 hours it should be consumed immediately. After 4 hours it should be discarded.

Public health physician Dr Margaret Young added one of the simplest ways to reduce the risk of food poisoning was good hand hygiene.

"It is important to wash your hands frequently when preparing and serving food," Dr Young said.

She said depending on the type of food poisoning, symptoms vary.

"(They) can include diarrhoea, which usually lasts one to three days, but can last up to ten days, fever, temperature over 37.5 C in adults and over 38 C in children, nausea and vomiting that may last a day or two and stomach cramps and pain," she said.

She said most gastroenteritis infections don't need hospital treatment.

"It is very important to drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration and to get plenty of rest.

"Solutions such as Gastrolyte or Hydralyte help replace the water, salts and fluid lost by vomiting and diarrhoea.

They also come in icy-poles, which entice children to keep their fluids up, follow the instructions on the packet."

She said in some cases with severe symptoms, people should talk to a doctor or call 13 HEALTH.

Do you have any tips for food safety that didn't make the list? Let us know in the comments below.

Topics:  christmas food poisoning health wbhhs

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