As part of Australian Food Safety Week, Livingstone Shire Council is urging local consumers to take food poisoning seriously.
Waste Management Councillor Adam Belot said Council was promoting the initiative at a local level, holding an information stall at Yeppoon Central from 13 to 15 November.
“We need to remember that food poisoning isn’t just a minor stomach upset, it should be taken seriously as it can be fatal. The Listeria outbreak linked to Australian rockmelons earlier this year resulted in seven tragic deaths and a miscarriage. This was followed by a recall of imported frozen vegetables which was linked to 47 listeriosis cases and nine deaths in Europe and one death in Australia,” Cr Belot said.
“Listeria bacteria are widely found in the environment, so most raw foods are likely to be contaminated. You don’t have to miss out on your favourite foods as Listeria is easily killed by cooking so, for example, you can easily add ham to a pizza, feta to a quiche or smoked salmon to fully cooked scrambled eggs.
“Just remember that cooked foods can easily become re-contaminated through poor food handling after cooking. For foods that can’t be cooked you can make other choices such as using fresh whole lettuce for salads rather than bagged lettuce.
“It’s important you maintain a healthy and varied diet if you are pregnant, elderly or immune and we recommend you also talk to your GP or an accredited practicing dietician about how to eat well while avoiding foods at risk of Listeria.
“I encourage residents to have a chat with the officers on hand at the stall to find out what they can do to reduce their chances of being affected by the dangers of food poisoning.”
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Follow these food safety tips to reduce your risk of Listeria infection as well as other forms of food poisoning:
• Always wash your hands with soap and running water and dry thoroughly before handling food and keep food utensils and cooking areas clean
• Unlike most other food poisoning bacteria, Listeria can grow at refrigeration temperatures, so ready to eat food or leftovers should never be stored in the fridge for more than 24 hours. Since Listeria grows slowly in the fridge, it will do so only very slowly at cold temperatures so make sure your refrigerator is keeping your food at or less than 5°C.
• Avoid refrigerated foods that are past their ‘use by’ date
• Refrigerate leftovers promptly and use or freeze within 24 hours
• Always look for cooking and storage instructions on the food package label and follow them when provided.
• Cook high risk foods such as poultry, minced meat, sausages, hamburgers and leftovers to 75°C
• Cook egg dishes, such as quiche, to 72°C in the centre (or until the white is firm and the yolk thickens).
Find out more about listeria and test your knowledge with a food safety quiz on the Food Safety Information Council website www.foodsafety.asn.au concluded.