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Raw & Risky Foods - Tips to reduce your risk of contamination

eggsEach year an estimated 4.1 million people contract food poisoning in Australia, and of those, 1 million Australians visit a doctor, 32,000 people are hospitalised and 86 people die from food poisoning.

In recent years, there has been numerous major food poisoning outbreaks linked to risky raw foods such as unpasteurised milk, raw eggs, bean/seed sprouts, frozen berries and lettuce.

Raw foods can become contaminated with bacteria and viruses in many ways such as:

  • food handlers’ unwashed hands;
  • soil, compost or dirty irrigation water used to grow food;
  • dirty kitchen equipment; and
  • through contact with other contaminated food.

Cooking the food usually kills any bacteria or viruses, so there is more of a risk of contracting food poisoning from eating certain raw foods.

By following these simple tips you can reduce your risk of contamination from raw food:meat

  • DON’T use any cracked eggs in raw egg dishes such as egg nog, uncooked desserts like mousses and tiramisu, hollandaise sauces, fresh mayonnaise, aioli, health shakes with added raw egg or steak tartar. Prepare all raw egg dishes as close as possible to when they will be consumed and refrigerate at or below 5°C.
  • DON’T wash eggs from your backyard chooks as it spreads bacteria around your kitchen. Use a paper towel or brush to remove as much visible dirt as possible and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards. Again, it’s best not to use them in raw egg dishes.
  • DON’T eat undercooked dishes including minced meat, such as in hamburgers and sausages, liver (including pâté), stuffed or rolled roasts or poultry. Cook these foods all the way through to 75°C to kill bacteria.
  • DON’T drink unpasteurised milk as it is likely to be contaminated with bacteria. If you have your own goat or cow you can pasteurize your own milk by heating it to 75 °C in a double boiler for 2 minutes continuously stirring, then cool and refrigerate in a clean container. Note: it is illegal to sell raw cow’s milk.
  • DON’T let juices from raw meat or poultry contaminate other foods that won’t be cooked, like salads or desserts. Use separate chopping boards for raw meat and salad veggies, and cover raw meat and poultry in the fridge.
  • Reduce your risk of food poisoning by washing your fruit and veggies under running water and dry with a paper towel just before eating. You may need to scrub soil from root veggies. There is no need to wash bagged fresh salads or cut vegetables if the label says it has been pre-washed, but make sure you use them by the use-by-date.
  • Finally, don’t forget that some foods, such as raw eggs, unpasteurised dairy products, cold deli meats, soft cheeses, pâté and salads that you haven’t prepared at home, may be contaminated by Listeria. These foods need to be avoided entirely by some at risk groups who have a higher risk of listeriosis, including pregnant women, the elderly and people with poor or compromised immune systems.

vegesCouncil encourages all Southern Downs’ residents to take the Food Safety Information Council’s Food Safety Quiz to test your knowledge about how to reduce your risk of food poisoning from foods that are raw and risky.  For further information about food safety or to access the quiz, visit

Alternatively, you can contact Council’s Environmental Health team on 1300 MY SDRC (1300 697 372).


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