Food Safety At Christmas Time

It goes without saying that food safety in aged care facilities is just as important at Christmas as at any other time of the year - temperature records and corrective actions are required, no matter what day of the year it is.

All staff should also be aware that having good food safety at home over the Christmas season will help with celebrations - here are some tips that can be used at home to help with safe food.

  • Always cook high risk food such as chicken or minced food, such as sausages until the juices run clear, if you have an accurate thermometer, even better (75 C is a good temperature to aim for) - do not eat these foods if they are undercooked as there is a high risk of food poisoning;
  • Do not leave food out in the temperature danger zone (between 5 C and 60 C) for too long - try to limit this to no more than two hours. This is especially important at Christmas time when many families will have cold and hot food displayed "buffet style".
  • Wash all salad/vegetable items that you buy as they may have traces of fertiliser and pesticide on them - especially important if you are not going to cook these ingredients.
  • When buying food from the supermarket, try and make the food shopping the last thing you do at the shops, its best to go straight home after the shopping is done so that refrigerated and frozen items can be put into the fridge or freezer at home as soon as possible. Also put the chilled and frozen food into your shopping trolley last of all so that they spend the shortest amount of time possible out of temperature control.
  • If you know you may be longer in the shops (it is Christmas after all!), or it will take you longer to get home, it is a good idea to take an esky in the back of the car for all the cold and frozen food.
  • Left-overs are also a part of Christmas, we always seem to over-cater and then we don't want to waste the extra food so the extra somehow manages to fit (just) into the fridge. It is a good idea to use the left-overs up within 48 hours, if you are going to reheat any food (probably in the microwave), make sure it is steaming hot, again if you have an accurate thermometer so much the better, and again 75 C is a good mark to reach. 
  • Probably most importantly and before you start preparing food for the family at Christmas time, don't forget to wash your hands, about 30% of food poisoning happens at home! Also if you have a tea towel hanging from the oven door handle or somewhere similar, it is a good idea to change this daily as this can provide a great breeding ground for bacteria.
Hopefully we can all avoid food poisoning this Christmas season and enjoy some time off with family.

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