SummaryRead the full fact sheet
- Never buy a product if you are unsure about its quality or safety.
- Check the dates on packaging.
- Once you purchase chilled or frozen food, get it home and into the fridge or freezer as quickly as possible.
- Keep high-risk foods out of the temperature danger zone of between 5 °C and 60 °C.
Even if food producers and sellers have followed the food safety laws, the quality and safety of your food can be affected by how you handle it.
Once you purchase food, the safety of that food is your responsibility. When shopping for food, choose, pack and transport it carefully to make sure it stays safe to eat.
Watch this video about food safety when shopping.
People at risk of food poisoning
- pregnant women
- young children
- the elderly
- anyone with a chronic disease.
Take special care when buying, storing and preparing food for these people.
Choose your food carefully when shopping
Australia produces some of the most wholesome and safe food in the world. However, the quality and safety of some food can be affected by poor storage and packaging. Choose food carefully when shopping and only buy food from reputable suppliers with clean and tidy premises.
- dented, swollen or leaking cans or containers
- products with damaged or imperfect packaging
- cracked or dirty
- chilled or frozen foods that have been left out of the refrigerator or freezer
- products that are soiled or mouldy
- ready-to-eat foods left uncovered on counters
- hot food, like takeaways, which are not steaming hot
- anything where you have doubts about the quality.
Take special care with high-risk foods
Food poisoning bacteria grow and multiply on some types of food more easily than on others. These high-risk foods include:
- raw and cooked - such as chicken and minced meat, and foods containing these, such as casseroles, curries and lasagne
- - such as custard and dairy based desserts like custard tarts and cheesecake
- eggs and egg products - such as mousse
- small goods - such as ham and salami
- seafood - such as seafood salad, patties, fish balls, stews containing seafood and fish stock
- cooked rice and pasta
- prepared salads - such as coleslaws, pasta salads and rice salads
- prepared fruit salads
- ready-to-eat foods - such as sandwiches, rolls, and pizzas that contain any of the food above.
High-risk foods should be kept out of the temperature danger zone (5 °C to 60 °C). Keep food at 5 °C or below or at 60 °C and above.
When you buy high-risk foods, try to minimise the time they spend in the temperature danger zone by packing them properly and taking them home immediately.
Check the dates on the packaging
Always check the date marked on perishable foods, especially chilled or frozen items.
Plan your shopping trip around food safety
Some hints for shopping safely:
- Always pick up your frozen or chilled foods towards the end of your shopping trip.
- Buy hot chickens and other hot food later in your trip and keep it separate from cold food.
- Prevent meat, chicken or fish juices leaking onto other products.
- Check that the staff use separate tongs/utensils or methods when handling different food types if you are buying from a deli.
- Wash your reusable shopping bags regularly, especially if they are soiled by food liquids.
Transporting food home
If you have purchased hot, chilled or frozen foods, you should get them home as quickly as possible. For trips longer than about 30 minutes, or on very hot days, it's a good idea to put chilled or frozen foods in a cooler or insulated bag to keep food cold.
Once you arrive home, immediately put chilled or frozen foods into your fridge or freezer.