Diet & Nutrition

Summer food safety

With 5.4 million people experiencing food poisoning in Australia each year, food safety is something we should all want to get right. And with summer entertaining not too far off, a salad plate or antipasto platter can easily be left out for a little too long. So, how can we keep our guests (and ourselves) safe?
Here are some tips to safe guard your summer menu:
The danger zone
Bacteria, which causes food poisoning, thrives in the temperature "danger zone" between 5°C and 60°C. Particular attention should be paid to foods such as dairy and soy products, seafood, meat, cooked rice or pasta and prepared salads, as these are high-risk foods for bacterial growth.
To steer clear of the danger zone, avoid getting food out of the fridge too early before serving or leaving leftovers out for too long before putting them in the fridge or freezer.
While entertaining, avoid leaving food such as cheese platters or salads out for extended periods. Food that has been out for less than two hours can go back in the fridge. If food has been left out for more than two hours, but less than four, it can be used immediately. But if food has been out for more than four hours, throw it out.
At the supermarket
Consider whether items have been stored properly in the supermarket. For example, avoid frozen products that have defrosted or prepared salads left uncovered. Also, avoid buying products with visible faults such as dented tins and damaged packages.
At the checkout, ask for raw meats to be packed in separate bags to avoid contamination with other foods and aim to keep cold items together, as they will help keep each other cool. Using insulated bags can help your chilled items stay cold until you get home, especially if you need to travel for over 30 minutes.
At home
A clean-out every three months is a good idea to ensure your pantry is clean and dry and your fridge is not overloaded (there needs to be space for cool air to circulate). Good organisation within your kitchen is also vital. Make sure food items are sorted so all canned items are together and loose herbs and spices are in airtight bags or containers. To keep your fridge in order, creating a label and date system might be useful. This can also help prevent nasty surprises getting forgotten at the back.
This information is provided by the Sanitarium Nutrition Service.

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