Approximately 1.5 million Australians suffer from food-related illness each year. These illnesses are usually mild, but occasionally can be serious and debilitating. Those particularly at risk include young children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with depressed immune systems and chronic medical conditions.
Planning your shopping
Here are a few suggestions to help you shop efficiently and safely:
Do your shopping in the right order!
- Start with the non-perishable items: canned food, biscuits, pasta, rice, oil, etc.
- Then add the fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products etc., from the chilled section.
- Last of all: the refrigerated and frozen section. It’s a good idea to take a freezer bag with you so that you can keep the food cold until you get it into the refrigerator or freezer.
It’s best to do the shopping fairly quickly, put the food away in the appropriate storage places as quickly as possible and only take it out just before it is to be eaten.
Storing food in your refrigerator
Your refrigerator and freezer must be at the correct temperature to keep the food in good condition, preserve its nutritional value and ensure it is safe to eat. Buy a thermometer if your refrigerator doesn´t have one.
The temperature in your refrigerator should not be higher than 5° C, with adequate air flow around the food ensuring an even temperature distribution.
- Store raw foods in covered or sealed containers.
- Thaw frozen food in the refrigerator, not at room temperature where bacteria can multiply.
Storing your food
- Check the "best before" and "use-by" dates.
- Store food away from toxic items, such as cleaning agents and sprays that can contaminate food.
- Cover all food before storing in cupboards.
Five questions about food safety
How do I know if a packaged food is safe to eat?
Most labels on packaged food include a "use-by" or a "best before" date. Foods with a "use by" date must be consumed before the date listed for health and safety reasons. Foods with a "best before" date provide a bit more flexibility. However, it is recommended that you eat foods by the "best before" date to enjoy the best quality possible.
Can I still buy food even though it has gone past the "use-by" date?
No. Under new legislation in Australia and New Zealand, products past their "use-by" date are not permitted to be sold.
Can I still eat a product even though the packaging is damaged?
If the packaging of a fresh product, such as cottage cheese, yogurt or milk, is damaged you shouldn’t eat the product. The same is true for damaged, dented or rusted cans.
What should I check for when shopping?
- Damaged packaging or damaged foods.
- Check the product very carefully for any signs of dented, rusted or swollen cans; leaking cartons, cans, bottles or containers; torn or ripped packaging; swollen chilled food packages; cracked eggs or broken or imperfect seals.
What should I do when buying fresh salads?
- Check that the food is kept chilled.
- Check the instructions provided by the retailer on how to use the self-service area.
- Always take a container from the dispenser.
- Check each salad or dessert has its own utensil. Use the one that is allocated to the item and don’t mix the serving utensils.
- Hold the utensils only by the handle and, when replacing, ensure that the handle does not come into contact with the food.
- Always remember that other people will use the salad bar, so never touch or taste any of the foods on display.
- Check if the food is protected by a guard - usually a clear plastic cover extending over the food to protect it from ´coughs or sneezes´.
- If you see anyone handling food, report it to a staff member.