HEALTHY CHRISTMAS: Avoid taking the joy out of the festive season with these few food preparation and storage precautions.
HEALTHY CHRISTMAS: Avoid taking the joy out of the festive season with these few food preparation and storage precautions.

Stay alert for food poisoning as temperature soars

AS THE summer temperature rises health authorities are warning people to be wary of salmonella poisoning by handling food with care.

Dr Vicky Sheppeard of NSW Heatlh's communicable diseases,said careful preparation and storage of food is the best defence against salmonellosis - a type of gastroenteritis caused by salmonella bacteria found in animals.

"Products containing undercooked eggs, and the spread of germs in the kitchen, are the most common source of salmonellosis outbreaks in NSW," Dr Sheppeard said.

"Salmonellosis can be quite severe and people sometimes have to be hospitalised to manage dehydration, particularly in young babies, elderly people and those with weakened immune systems."

Salmonellosis symptoms include fever, headache, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. Symptoms usually start around six to 72 hours after the contaminated food is eaten and usually last for four to seven days, but can continue for much longer.

Altogether 1391 salmonellosis cases were reported in NSW last summer.

"It is important that people do not prepare food for others while they are unwell with salmonellosis and, as a precaution, for 48 hours after symptoms have passed," Dr Sheppeard said.

NSW Food Authority chief executive officr Dr Lisa Szabo said that to reduce the risk of salmonella poisoning, consumers and food retailers can use commercially produced products instead of handmade mayonnaise and sauces when preparing food.

"It is also much safer to use commercially pasteurised eggs rather than raw eggs in ready-to-eat products such as desserts and dressings," Dr Szabo said.

"While preparing and handling food, keep benches and utensils clean and dry and do not allow cross contamination of raw and cooked products."

She said:

  • Food must be cooked thoroughly to kill salmonella.
  • It shouldn't be left out in the heat.
  • The longer food is left at room temperature the more the bacteria will multiply.
  • Refrigerated food should be kept at less than five degrees celsius.
  • Hot foods should be kept above 60 degrees celsius.

"Most people recover from salmonellosis by resting and drinking fluids but antibiotics are required in complicated cases," Dr Sheppeard said.

"Salmonellosis can take the joy out of the festive season but just a few simple precautions with the preparation and storage of food can make all the difference."

For further information, use the Salmonellosis fact sheet on the NSW Health website.


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