Meander Valley Gazette

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Keeping your family safe with common sense food storage methods

FeatureJoanne EisemannComment

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THE RECENT case of contaminated frozen berries has highlighted the importance of food safety and food safety practices. Although the berries in question were packed in China, there are things we can do to prevent the spread of food borne diseases, or ‘food poisoning’ in our own homes.

According to The Department of Health and Human Services, about one in five cases of food borne illnesses are linked to poor food practices in the home.

The information below is an excerpt from ‘Food Safety at Home: Tips for keeping food safe for you and your family’.

For the full article, please visit the Department of Health and Human Services’ website at au/publichealth/food_safety.

There are a number of simple steps you can take to keep food in your home safe to eat.


Many foodborne illness outbreaks are caused by poor hygiene practices. This includes poor personal hygiene, using dirty utensils and preparing food in unclean spaces.

Proper hand washing is one of the most important ways to prevent foodborne illness.

If you have been unwell with diarrhoea or vomiting, do not prepare food for others for at least two days.

Maintaining a clean kitchen is important for reducing the risk of foodborne illness for yourself and those for who you prepare food.


Cross-contamination is a common cause of foodborne illness. It involves the spread of microorganisms from one food or piece of equipment to another. For example, from raw chicken to cooked food, or from a dirty chopping board to salad vegetables.

Certain foods need to be kept separate from each other to prevent cross-contamination.

In particular, raw meat should be kept separate to cooked food.

When preparing food, use separate chopping boards, plates and utensils for raw and cooked foods.

When storing food, keep raw food on the lower shelves of the fridge in leak-proof containers or bags to prevent spills onto other food.


Keeping perishable foods cool (i.e. at 5°C or less) is one of the most important ways to keep food safe.

Microorganisms can grow and multiply quickly between 5 and 60°C. This is known as the temperature danger zone.

It is important to limit the time perishable foods spend in the temperature danger zone to prevent the growth of harmful microorganisms.

When deciding whether to use perishable food left in the temperature danger zone, use the following guide:


Food should be cooked to above 60°C to kill disease- causing microorganisms.

Undercooking meat and poultry, in particular, can be very dangerous.

Check the label Food labels provide information that can help you eat safe food.

Always check the ‘best before’ or ‘use by’ date given on the food label. Foods that should not be consumed after a certain date for health and safety reasons will have a use by date. Do not eat  food after its use by date. For foods marked with a best before date, it is still safe to eat the food after that date but it may have lost quality and some nutritional value. For further information and advice, call the Public

Health Hotline on Freecall 1800 671 738 or email pop.

Looking for information on food safety and your business?

Visit the Meander Valley Council website at