Food Safety and how NOT to kill your family

image of two chicken breasts on a plate

While my title is a lighthearted take on the matter, food safety is indeed a serious subject.

Ensuring food safety is essential for keeping your family healthy and happy. This post is intended to inform, and will provide you with valuable food safety tips, debunk common food safety myths, and guide you through the proper food handling practices to prevent food poisoning.

Classes if you are local (Melbourne) or Zooms from anywhere 🙂

By following guidelines from reputable sources like Food Standards Australia New Zealand and www.FoodSafety.Gov, you can make informed decisions about food storage and preparation while avoiding potential hazards. So, let’s dive in and explore the importance of food safety for your family’s well-being.

Food safety poster.

I’ve noticed in a few Facebook groups that people often ask questions about food safety, and sometimes the answers provided by other members can be surprising.

I’d like to share some of these questions and their correct answers, hoping it might be helpful to some of you. Let’s start with this one:

“Last night at 6 pm, I took my chicken out of the freezer and completely forgot about it until now. Can I still use it?”

The accompanying photo showed a fully defrosted chicken left out for 12 hours. Over 75 people commented on this post, with many suggesting that it’s fine to cook and consume.

This got me thinking: why to turn to Facebook, especially a moms’ group, for food safety advice? While moms are certainly resourceful when it comes to avoiding food poisoning, a “dot.gov.au” website would probably be a more reliable source of information.

I’m not a health and safety officer, but as someone with training in food technology and used to teach it at TAFE, the responses to this post alarmed me. Here are a few examples:

  • “I do it all the time; it’s fine.”
  • “Smell it; if it smells OK, it’s fine to eat.”
  • “If it feels cold to the touch and doesn’t smell, it’s fine.”

The truth is, you can’t smell salmonella. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, salmonella doesn’t usually affect the taste, smell, or appearance of food. It’s crucial to ask more questions and verify the accuracy of the advice before sharing it with others.

So, in terms of some guidance on on food temperature and time, we might use this Australian government website.

A chicken being put into a microwave.

To help you better understand food safety, here are some guidelines from Food Standards Australia New Zealand:

  1. Food handling and the danger zone: We chefs are taught that food safety is a priority. They’re the first lessons we learn, and I used to teach at TAFE. If your food has been in the danger zone (between 5°C and 60°C) for two hours or more, it’s best to discard it.
  2. Foods that pose safety risks: Examples include raw and cooked meats, dairy products, seafood, processed fruits and vegetables, cooked rice and pasta, and processed foods containing eggs, beans, nuts, or other protein-rich ingredients. Also, any foods that contain the above, such as sandwiches, rice salads, and pasta salads.

Lastly, here’s some food safety myth-busting from FoodSafety.Gov in the USA.

I hope this information helps you make informed decisions about food safety. Stay safe and bon appétit!

A poster for food safety, with a magnifying glass looking at broccoli.

OK, now I’ll sleep better for sharing that information. Stay safe out there 🙂

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