Australian consumers’ food safety report card released – World Health Day

Media release: 7 April 2015

To celebrate World Health Day 2015, which has the theme of food safety, the Food Safety Information Council has released a report card assessing Australian consumers’ knowledge of food safety.

Council Chair, Professor Michael Eyles, said that, while it is good news that a recent Australian National University study found food poisoning cases in Australia have decreased from an estimated 4.3 million cases in 2000 to 4.1 million in 2010, this is still an alarmingly high number.

‘Food poisoning can be serious and results in 31,920 hospitalisations, 86 deaths and 1 million visits to doctors on average each year.

‘Australian consumers get an A plus for knowledge of how to wash their hands correctly with our latest survey showing 98% of those surveyed know how to wash hands correctly using soap and running water and drying thoroughly. 85% also know to thoroughly wash a chopping board after using it for raw meat or poultry and before using it to prepare a raw food like salad. 89% correctly recognised that sausages should be cooked all the way through.

‘But there are a number of other food safety practices where there can be ‘room for improvement’:

  • Only 79% recognised that hamburgers should be cooked all the way through.
  • 22% of Australians think it is ok to leave cooked rice out of the refrigerator for up to 6 hours or overnight – or even that it doesn’t need refrigerating at all.
  • 25% of parents, that pack a lunchbox for school, fail to include a frozen drink or freezer block.
  • 55% always read and comply with ‘use by’ dates and only 45% always read and comply with ‘best before’ dates.
  • 33% of people always read and comply with storage instructions on packaged food labels and only14% always read and comply with cooking instructions
  • 60% of home cooks are washing whole poultry before it is cooked which spreads bacteria around the kitchen. A further 16% of those surveyed incorrectly tasted chicken to see if it is cooked properly rather than use a safe and accurate meat thermometer.

‘Also of concern is the lower level of food safety knowledge of 18 to 34 year olds compared with the older age group over 50. For example only 73% of the younger group know to cook hamburgers all the way through compared with 84% of over 50s; only 87% of the younger group know to cook sausages all the way through compared with 93% of over 50s; and only 59% of the younger group know to refrigerate chicken dishes straight away compared with 72% of over 50s, This is a particular worry as some of these younger people may become parents and be responsible for preparing food for vulnerable young children,’ Professor Eyles concluded.

The Food Safety Information Council has some basic tips to follow to reduce your risk of food poisoning:

Clean – wash hands with running water and soap then dry hands thoroughly before starting to cook and after handling raw meat.

Chill – transport your chilled or frozen food home from the shops in a cooler bag or esky. Use a fridge thermometer to make sure your fridge is running at or below 5ºC. Refrigerate leftovers promptly. Cooked food should be stored in covered containers and either put in the fridge to cool, or frozen immediately. Frozen foods should be defrosted in the fridge or microwave not on the kitchen bench

Cook – cook chicken, minced or boned meats, hamburger, stuffed meats and sausages right through until they reach 75°C using a meat thermometer. Serve hot food steaming hot above 60ºC. Always follow cooking instructions on packaged foods.

Separate – food should be stored in covered containers in the fridge and put raw meats and poultry in the bottom of the fridge so the juices don’t contaminate food on lower shelves. Don’t put cooked meat back on the plate the raw meat was on.

Media contact: Rachelle Williams, Food Safety Information Council

Tel 0407 626 688 info@foodsafety.asn.au

The Food Safety Information Council is Australia’s leading disseminator of consumer-targeted food safety information which aims to address the estimated 4.1 million cases of food poisoning in Australia each year that result in 31,920 hospitalisations, 86 deaths and 1 million visits to doctors on average each year.

 

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