Australians are incorrectly blaming the ‘off’ milk at the back of the fridge for food poisoning rather than much more risky raw egg dishes according to a national OmniPoll survey commissioned for Australian Food Safety Week.
Food Safety Information Council Chair, Rachelle Williams, said that the research found that most people correctly recognised that chicken (95%), minced meat (90%) and seafood (96%) were food poisoning risks if not handled properly. Milk is unlikely to be a problem as pasteurisation kills any dangerous bacteria.
“What is of concern is that fewer people (83%) identified raw egg dishes as a problem and 12% even considered raw egg dishes unlikely to be a risk. An increase in Salmonella outbreaks in recent years is linked to raw or minimally cooked egg dishes such as hand made aioli and mayonnaise. These types of food need to be handled and prepared with extra care to avoid causing food poisoning,” Ms Williams said.
In addition to the myth about ‘off’ milk being to blame here are 6 other common food poisoning myths that can be busted:
- If I get food poisoning it was the last meal I ate. Everyone blames the last thing they ate but some forms of food poisoning can take days or even weeks to eventuate.
- You can tell if chicken or minced meat dishes are cooked safely by tasting or if the juices run clear. A thermometer is the only way to know your food is cooked correctly to an internal 75°C.
- Food poisoning is mild and just a bit of gastro. While vomiting and diarrhea are the most common symptoms, food poisoning in extreme forms can cause reactive arthritis, kidney or nerve damage and hepatitis. Each year food poisoning results in 31,920 hospitalisations, 86 deaths and 1 million visits to doctors.
- If you are a vegetarian, your risk of food poisoning is low. Food poisoning outbreaks have been caused by fruit and vegetable food items such as rockmelon, frozen berries, semi-dried tomatoes, orange juice, salad items and cooked rice.
- Home made mayonnaise and aoili are better than the commercial ones. They might taste better but they are a major cause of food poisoning outbreaks in Australia. If you wish to make your own mayonnaise or aoli, prepare small amounts and use immediately.
- If you’ve defrosted frozen meat or chicken it can’t be safely refrozen. From a safety point of view it is fine to refreeze defrosted meat or chicken or any frozen food as long as it was defrosted in a fridge running at 5°C or below. You may have lost some quality in defrosting then refreezing as the cells break down a little and the food can become slightly watery.
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- Fresh eggs may contain the bacteria Salmonella enteritidis. Although S. enteritidis affects a very small number of eggs, it’s still wise to refrain from eating raw or undercooked eggs. The salmonella tends to be found in the yolk of the egg, according to researchers. But it’s possible for it to be in raw egg whites, so it’s best to avoid both.Foods that may have been made with raw eggs include:
- Homemade mayonnaise
- Milkshakes and smoothies
- Caesar salad dressing
- Hollandaise sauce
- Homemade ice cream
- Homemade eggnog
- Pick pasteurised. If you want to make a recipe that calls for raw beaten eggs or egg whites, fear not! You have a few options here. Egg substitutes are pasteurised, which means they’re rapidly heated at a certain temperature for a certain amount of time to destroy any salmonella. Dried egg whites are pasteurised by being heat-treated in their dried form. Pasteurised whole eggs are also available at some supermarkets.
- Keep ’em cool. Salmonella bacteria multiply quickly at room temperature. So make sure the eggs you buy are well refrigerated at the store. Then put them in your refrigerator as soon as you get home.
- Don’t store them in the door. Some refrigerator doors are designed with a special place to keep your eggs. But guess what? The best way to store your eggs is to leave them in the carton they came in and keep them in the coldest part of your refrigerator (which is not the door!), set at 4°C or slightly below.
- You’ve got three to five weeks. It’s tempting to stock up on eggs when your market has a two-for-one sale on those 18-egg cartons. But unless you’re making egg salad for a potluck or planning an egg-dyeing marathon, you might want to stick to the 12-egg option. It’s best to use raw eggs in three to five weeks (check the purchase-by date on the carton for more precise information). If you’re making an angel-food cake or hollandaise sauce and have a bowl full of egg yolks or whites sitting in your fridge, keep in mind that leftover raw yolks or whites should be used within four days.
- Hard boiled doesn’t mean “hard to spoil.” As soon as you hard boil an egg and let it cool, you need to refrigerate it and use it within a week. In Easter egg terms, this means that if you want to display your colourful works of egg-art in your kitchen or on your dining table, you shouldn’t actually eat those eggs. If your family likes to hide Easter eggs, try to hide them in a well-shaded area, and don’t keep them out of the refrigerator for more than two hours total.
- Serve egg dishes safely. Keep hot egg dishes hot and cold egg dishes cold. Set your cold egg dish in a larger dish containing ice cubes to keep it cool while it sits out on the buffet table or at a party.
- Safeguard the leftovers. Refrigerate leftover cooked egg dishes and use within three days. To speed the cooling process in the refrigerator, divide a large portion of food among several shallow containers.