A massive $18 million is the estimated cost to the WA community last year from food poisoning, and the most likely place to contract it is at home.
Salmonella and Campylobacter bacteria were collectively responsible for more than 5,600 reported cases of food poisoning in 2019, but the actual number is estimated to be more than 50,000, due to underreporting.
Food poisoning is a serious illness, particularly for the vulnerable in the community such as the elderly and young children.
To raise awareness about the importance of food safety in the home, the Department of Health has developed the ‘Play it Food Safe’ campaign.
Department of Health Executive Director of Environmental Health, Dr Michael Lindsay said the campaign highlights that the best way to avoid food poisoning is to correctly prepare, cook and store food in the home.
“While most people believe they handle food safely, a survey conducted in 2019 showed that many people do not always know the right way to handle food safely, especially when it comes to cooking with eggs and chicken,” he said.
“By properly cleaning preparation areas and utensils, keeping different foods separate, cooking food well and storing it at the correct temperature, people will greatly reduce their risk of foodborne illness.”
Bacteria can grow rapidly when food is not prepared, cooked or stored properly. However, food poisoning is simple to prevent when you follow a few food safety tips at home:
- Clean hands, utensils and benchtops with hot soapy water during and after use;
- Separate foods such as raw meat, cooked meat, eggs and fruit and vegetables to prevent cross-contamination in the fridge and when cooking. Use separate utensils and chopping boards;
- Cook foods especially eggs, chicken and mince, all the way through to kill bacteria; and
- Chill perishable foods below 5̊C. Foods left out in the danger zone, between 5̊C and 60̊C for more than four hours should be thrown out.
Coinciding with Food Safety Week which runs November 14-21, the campaign messages will be promoted to the community in conjunction with Local Government Authorities and Non-Government Organisations.
Remember to Play it Food Safe to prevent food poisoning.
For more food safety tips, visit www.healthywa.wa.gov.au/foodsafety.