There are many myths surrounding food safety. Whether
it's an old wives' tale about how long food lasts in the fridge or
Uncle Barry's dodgy BBQ habits, food safety is an often forgotten
part of healthy eating.
Each year food poisoning causes more than 30,000
hospitalisations in Australia(Source: Food Safety Information
Council), so you can understand why we think it's pretty
important. Diabetes Queensland Accredited Practising Dietitian
Alison Bennett gives her top tips to keep food safe at
- If in doubt, throw it out.
- Use a permanent marker to write the date on food packages
you're going to store in the fridge or freezer.
- Pay attention to the label. If something says refrigerate after
opening, do it.
- Check your fridge temperature regularly to make sure it's 5
degrees Celsius or below.
- Check each product for a "use by" or "best before" date. "Use
by" means the food is not safe to eat after this date. "Best
before" means the nutrition and quality of the product may have
changed a little, but the food is still safe to consume.
Here's a few myths published by the Australian Food Safety
Myth 1 - If you drop food on the floor it is ok to
eat before 5 seconds.
Bacteria does not politely wait 5 seconds to contaminate food
dropped on the floor. Your floor will be contaminated from dirty
shoes, pets, and general day-to-day life. A preliminary UK study
found fewer bacteria on carpets than smooth floor surfaces (but you
don't want to end up eating bits of carpet fluff on your food
Myth 2 - Food is contaminated only if it smells or
You can get food poisoning from food that smells and tastes
great. Bacteria can grow quickly in food that has been left in the
temperature danger zone between 5°C and 65°C with no change in the
food's smell or appearance.
Myth 3 - Food poisoning is from the last meal you
When you get struck down with Bali Belly, it's common to think
that the food poisoning is from the last meal you ate. But some
forms of food poisoning can take days or even weeks to eventuate.
This is what makes it very difficult sometimes for health
professionals to find what causes food poisoning.
Myth 4 - If you are a vegetarian, your risk of food
poisoning is low
Sorry vegetarians, but many food poisoning outbreaks have been
caused by improper handling of fruit and vegetable food items such
as frozen berries, semi dried tomatoes, orange juice, cooked rice,
bean or alfalfa sprouts. Even an egg with feathers and chicken poo
on the shell can cause food poisoning.
Myth 5 - Hamburgers can be served rare
Unfortunately no! Always cook minced meat products such as
hamburgers and sausages until they are 75°C inside because bacteria
on the outside of pieces of meat can be transferred throughout the
meat when it is minced. See more on meat safety.
Myth 6 - Pork must always be cooked all the way
Like beef or lamb, you can safely serve whole pieces of pork
rare in Australia as the type of parasites (e.g. Trichinella) that
may be a concern in pig meat overseas are not present in
Australia's commercial pig population. However, minced pork
products or rolled and/or stuffed cuts such as roasts and
schnitzels must be cooked to 75°C at the centre.
Interested to know more about food safety myths? Take on
the challenge by completing the quick Food Safety Myths Quiz by the Australian
Food Safety Information Council.
For further information regarding food safety visit Food Standards Australia New Zealand