Don’t let gastro-ho-ho ruin your Christmas


Mater is encouraging Queenslanders to practise good kitchen hygiene this Christmas to save themselves and their families from a bout of festive food poisoning.

Mater Director of Infectious Diseases Dr Paul Griffin said food poisoning, which is often caused by poor food handling or storage, can lead to severe sickness – and even hospitalisation.

Dr Griffin said hospital emergency departments usually see a “significant increase” in food poisoning cases over the Christmas and New Year holiday period.

Doctors at the Mater Hospital Brisbane public ED and Mater Private Emergency Care Centre treated 100 patients with diarrhoea, gastroenteritis, nausea or vomiting last December.

A further 63 patients were treated for the same conditions in January.

According to Queensland Health, there are at least 4.1 million cases of gastroenteritis in Australia each year.

Dr Griffin said Salmonella was the most commonly reported bacteria responsible for food poisoning and foodborne illness outbreaks, especially at Christmas.

“The risk of food poisoning is higher during the festive season because fridges are often overloaded with food and Christmas feasts are left out on the table for longer than usual,” Dr Griffin said.

“December is notoriously hot in Queensland, so leaving food out on a table for hours on end to be consumed is not a good idea.

“No one wants to spend the most wonderful time of the year with food poisoning, so please follow basic food hygiene rules.”

Dr Griffin’s key tips to fight festive food-poisoning are:

  • Prepare food as close as possible to the eating time and make sure there is enough space in the refrigerator to keep food chilled
  • Refrigerate leftovers immediately after the meal
  • Ensure you maintain good food hygiene at all times when handling food to minimise the risk of cross-contamination
  • Use different cutting boards for each food type, such as meat, seafood, vegetables and salads

If you become unwell, seek advice from your GP in the first instance.

/Public Release. View in full here.