Food safety leads to better health for Australians
The United Nations' fourth annual World Food Safety Day was held on 7 June this year, and the theme was 'Safer Food – Better Health'. Each year the council uses the day to highlight important issues around food safety and how it affects our short-term and long-term health, as it doesn't just pertain to the immediate effects of food poisoning.
In recognition of the occasion, the Food Safety Information Council (FSIC) released a report card on Australia's food safety performance, and there were mixed results, meaning there is still room for Aussies to improve on our food safety practices.
The report has shown the immediate effect of the COVID-19 pandemic was an increase in handwashing and hand sanitising; however, as we have adjusted to living with our new normal, there has been a reported 15% decrease since October 2021, in the average number of times Australians have washed or sanitised their hands daily. According to the national survey for Global Handwashing Day, one in six people couldn't recall how often they wash their hands daily, while others reported a reduction in hand washing.
More and more people are educated on the clear benefits of eating more organic foods, and this includes growing your produce at home to avoid the added risk of pesticides and additives; however, there is a big difference between cultivating your veggie garden and foraging produce you aren't familiar with. Following wet weather, you might find an abundance of wild mushrooms growing, but often these are not worth the risk. FSIC advises against picking or eating wild mushrooms after a number of poisonings from death cap mushrooms last year, and if you see any in your yard, dispose of them to keep young children and pets safe.
A new industry that has been flourishing out of COVID lockdowns is the rise in small food businesses operating out of residential homes. While supporting local businesses is great, if you can't be sure the food you're purchasing has been prepared in a regulated kitchen under safe circumstances, it’s best not to risk it. Consider whether your food is being picked up or delivered from a residential address and whether they are a registered business, as there is no guarantee of food safety protocols or that the kitchen is equipped for safe food production without a food serving license.
Some of the more common outcomes of poor food safety include salmonella and incorrect preparation of poultry. In 2020 there was a 27% reduction in reported cases of salmonella compared with the previous five years. Much of this could be attributed to the lockdowns and closures affecting cafes and restaurants, as a lot of outbreaks are linked to food service industries.
Unfortunately, many Australians are still not educated that washing a whole raw chicken prior to cooking presents an unnecessary poisoning risk, with 49% admitting to doing so to the FCIS. The risk occurs as washing raw poultry can spread bacteria to your hands, surfaces and other raw foods. 60% of survey participants admitted to this practice the last time the survey was held in 2011. The best way to ensure chicken is safe to eat is to make sure it's cooked to a temperature of 75°C in the centre with a meat thermometer.
To adhere to the Australian food safety regulations, ensure you understand the basic food safety tips such as hand washing practices and proper food storage. This includes being alerted to any issues with your cold storage temperatures with the assistance of a fridge or freezer alarm thermometer.
Fildes Food Safety wants to help reduce an estimated 4.1 million cases of food poisoning in Australia each year, so browse our extensive range of food safety products and resources to keep your kitchen food-safe.