Food safety during the holidays
Dairy Food Safety Victoria wishes everyone a safe and happy festive season.
During this time of year, keeping everyone safe from foodborne illness is particularly important. We can do this by practising good hygienic habits which include keeping food hot or cold, washing our hands, avoiding cross contamination, and not consuming risky foods.
Summer in Australia is a perfect time to enjoy a great range of dairy products. The safety and quality of dairy foods such as cheese, yoghurt, cream, dairy desserts, dairy dips, egg nog and custards is maintained by keeping them refrigerated.
The hot Australian summer also means that we struggle to keep our refrigerated foods cold enough. How often do we make every effort to keep our beverages cold, whilst ignoring the need to keep perishable foods cold?
So pay particular attention to storing these foods at the correct temperature, check use-by dates, and follow handling instructions.
It is important to keep these foods out of the danger zone which ranges from 5°C to 60°C.
Plus, remember the 2 hour/4 hour rule for ready-to-eat, potentially hazardous foods after they have been removed from the refrigerator. As a rule of thumb, if a food is held at ambient (room) temperatures for under 2 hours it is safe to eat or return to the refrigerator. For a food stored between 2–4 hours at ambient temperatures it is ok to consume straight away. If the storage time is over 4 hours, throw it away. Don’t risk foodborne illness.
Always remember to wash your hands with soap and water before and after preparing food. Importantly wash them thoroughly after you touch raw foods such as eggs, vegetables, chicken and meat, and before eating or drinking. Always make sure you cook food thoroughly.
Make dairy foods a part of your holiday cuisine, but adhere to safe food handling practices.
Image: Doris at Crooked Island, by Janis Fitch, Florida.