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Warm weather and large get-togethers are two ingredients that make the festive season a risky period for food poisoning.
Metro South Public Health Physician Dr Vicki Slinko said food poisoning could be particularly serious for young children, the elderly, pregnant women and anyone in poor health.
“Many hands in the kitchen, overloaded fridges, food being left out and the summer heat provide perfect conditions for bacteria to multiply,” she said.
Dr Slinko said the best food safety strategy was to follow standard food safety precautions and plan ahead.
“When picking up your seafood, bring an insulated bag or cooler with ice as seafood needs to stay below 5ºC,” she said.
“Before cooking large turkeys and other poultry, they should be completely defrosted, ideally in the fridge, and this can take several days.
“Make sure you have a temperature thermometer to ensure the thickest parts of the meat reach at least 75 degrees.
“Fridges need to be at or below 5ºC. So, to avoid repeated opening the refrigerator during the day, put your drinks in an esky.”
Dr Slinko said preventative measures were important as some contaminated or off foods would not necessarily look, taste or smell any different to safe food.
“The symptoms of food-borne illness may include diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, fever, and headaches,” she said.
“You should see a doctor immediately if your symptoms include blood or mucus in the diarrhoea.
“Many people have mild symptoms and recover within a few days. But if symptoms persist for more than three days, are very severe, or are in infants or the elderly, you should seek medical advice from a general practitioner.”
People with diarrhoea and vomiting should stay home and drink plenty of fluids, and not prepare food for others.