In the hot weather there is a higher risk of food poisoning but if you follow some simple rules when you prepare, handle and store food it will significantly reduce your risk of getting sick. Victorian State Nutritionist, Veronica Graham, gives you some simple food safety tips to keep in mind this summer while you entertain your family and friends.
Summer is a great time of year for eating lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, and for eating outdoors. It's also a fantastic time for entertaining with friends and family.

Unfortunately, summer is also the most common time of the year for food poisoning.

This happens because bacteria in food multiply faster in hot weather. Also preparing food and eating outdoors can also be difficult especially if you don’t have access to a fridge and a place to wash your hands.

Food poisoning can be quite serious, especially for children, older people and those with other illnesses.

But there are easy steps you can take to reduce the risk and still enjoy summer eating.

When you're food shopping this summer bring along insulated containers like a cool bag or an esky for chilled, frozen or hot food. Then take the food straight home.

Make sure your fridge temperature is below 5°C and keep your freezer at minus 15°C to minus 18°C. If you are in doubt you can use a thermometer to check.

When you're unpacking the shopping don't overfill your fridge - having enough room inside your fridge for air circulation is important for effective cooling.

Keep raw meat, chicken and seafood chilled and covered and away from cooked food. Also store raw meats below other foods in the fridge.

If you're catering for a large crowd a really good idea is to keep drinks on ice or in an insulated cooler or esky. This saves space in your fridge for food.

Always wash your hands thoroughly before preparing food and after touching raw meat.

Remember use separate tea towels one to dry your hands and the other for the dishes.

Keep your salads, meats and seafood fresh and safe in the cooler or fridge until you are ready to cook or serve.

When preparing food always remember to use different chopping boards for raw and cooked food or wash them very well between uses.

At this time of year, especially after a big family lunch, there are always plenty of leftovers!

Store your leftovers in the fridge and eat within 3 to 5 days. If you don’t plan to eat them in this time, freeze them straight away.

Don't eat food that’s been left out of the fridge for more than 4 hours - especially poultry, meat, seafood, cooked rice, cooked pasta and salad.

Remember that a salad that has been left out for too long won’t just go limp - it could also grow harmful bacteria.

Food prepared, handled and stored safely is also fresher, tastier and more nutritious.

So enjoy your summer and remember these simple tips to keep food fresh and safe.

You can find more food safety tips on the Better Health Channel.

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