Food safety at home

Minimising the risks of food poisoning at home.

Adelaide and South Australia is famed for its fabulous fresh food and produce. With places like the Adelaide Central Markets as our pantry, locals love to cook.

Unfortunately, even at home, food poisoning can occur. Food that can potentially make you sick does not have to look, taste or smell bad, so it is important that food safety practices are followed even in the home kitchen.

To minimise the risk, we recommend you follow these simple rules:

Food poisoning bacteria are typically associated with potentially hazardous foods which include raw or cooked meat, dairy products, seafood, processed fruit, vegetables and sprouts, cooked rice and pasta and processed foods containing eggs, beans, nuts or other protein-rich foods.

  • Keep cold foods cold - below 5 degrees C.
  • Keep hot foods hot - at 60 degrees C or higher.
  • When food shopping, get this food home quickly and place it in the fridge. Use a cooler bag or esky when you can.

Contaminants from your hands can be transmitted to food and so hand washing is very important.

  • Wash your hands well with warm soapy water for around 30 seconds before preparing food, before eating, after handling raw meat and after using the toilet or petting animals.
  • Ensure your hands are dried well with clean or disposable towels.
  • Ask others to prepare food if you are feeling unwell.
  • Cover exposed cuts and wounds when handling food.

Cross contamination means to transfer bad bacteria from raw food (such as raw meat) to ready to eat food (such as cooked foods). This can be done via your hands, surfaces or utensils.

  • Ensure hands are thoroughly washed and dried after handling raw meat.
  • Use separate chopping boards and knives for raw meat and ready to eat food.
  • Thoroughly clean surfaces and utensils that have been used to prepare raw meat.
  • Keep raw foods separated from ready to eat foods. Store raw meats near the bottom of the fridge to prevent any juices from dripping onto other foods, otherwise ensure raw meats are stored within sealed containers in the fridge.

Bacteria can grow in frozen food while it is thawing, so defrosting food at room temperature should be avoided.

  • Frozen food should be defrosted in the fridge or in the microwave.
  • Food should be fully defrosted before cooking.
  • Food thawed in the fridge should be placed near the bottom of the fridge to prevent juices from dripping onto other foods.
  • If using a microwave, cook food immediately after defrosting.

Thorough cooking of food will ensure that any bacteria on food is destroyed.

  • Foods should be cooked until they are steaming hot.
  • Cook poultry until the juices run clear.
  • Cook mince, hamburger patties and sausages until there is no pink colouration.
  • Steaks can be still pink in the middle after cooked as any bacteria will be on the outside of the meat rather than in the middle.

Reheat foods thoroughly until they are steaming hot. This destroys bacteria that may have grown in the food while it has been stored in the fridge.

  • For risky foods that need cooling after cooking, it is important to cool the food to below 5ºC as quickly as possible. This minimises the time the food sits in the ideal bacteria-growing temperature.
  • Leave cooling foods at ambient temperature until they stop steaming, then place immediately into the fridge if not being eaten straight away.
  • Portion food into smaller sizes and use shallow dishes so they cool more quickly.

Further reading

The following websites contain useful additional information:

  1. SA Health – for more information about food safety at home
  2. Food Safety Council – a national health promotion charity
  3. SA Health – for food recalls and other safety information
  4. PIRSA – for food accreditations and regulations applied to producers.