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Top tips for food safety at home

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Top tips for food safety at home

Food poisoning affects around 4 million Australians each year. Foodborne illness happens when you eat or drink something that has been contaminated with harmful bugs, referred to as pathogens.

The three most common types of food poisoning bugs are:

  1. Bacteria e.g., Salmonella, E.coli and Listeria.
  2. Viruses e.g., Norovirus and Hepatitis A.
  3. Toxins produced by Staphylococcus aureus bacteria.


Symptoms can range from mild to very severe, and often include one or more of the following:

  • Nausea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Headaches

The time that it takes for symptoms to emerge depends on the type of pathogen.


Time between eating and onset of symptoms

Duration of symptoms

Food that infection is usually found in

6 hours – 6 days

(usually 12 hours – 3 days)

4 - 7 days

  • Undercooked poultry
  • Raw egg desserts
  • Mayonnaise
  • Sprouts
  • Tahini

2 – 10 days

(usually 3 – 4 days)

1 week
  • Improperly cooked beef
  • Unpasteurised milk and juice
  • Sprouts
  • Contaminated water

3 days – 10 weeks

  • Soft cheeses
  • Unpasteurised milk
  • Ready-to-eat deli meats
Norovirus1 – 2 days12 - 60 hours
  • Poorly cooked shellfish
  • Ready-to-eat foods touched by an infected worker
Hepatitis A2 – 7 weeksVariable, usually 3 weeks
  • Raw or poorly cooked seafood harvested from contaminated waters
  • Ready-to-eat foods handled by an infected food handler

Staphylococcus aureus toxin

0.5 – 8 hours1 - 2 days
  • Cream desserts
  • Pastries
  • Potato salad

What can I do to prevent food poisoning at home?

Risk of food poisoning is much lower if food is handled correctly and then cooked appropriately and then eaten immediately and leftovers stored properly.

Food handling

  • Avoid preparing food for others if you are sick.
  • Any cuts or sores on hands or fingers should be covered with a clean, waterproof dressing or wear disposable gloves.
  • Before handling any food or utensils, always wash hands properly beforehand.

Food preparation

  • Keep kitchen benches and equipment clean and dry.
  • Separate raw and cooked food and use different cutting boards and knives for both.
  • Avoid using a dirty tea towel for drying dishes – air drying is best.
  • Defrost and marinate foods in the fridge, not on benchtops, especially meats.
  • Wash fruit and vegetables thoroughly, especially if they will be eaten raw.
  • Do not eat foods that are past their ‘use-by’ date, in a dented or swollen can, in food packages are swollen or have been tampered with, or in vacuum packaging that has become loose.


  • Always cook and reheat foods to at least 60ºC, which is the temperature at which steam starts to rise
  • For meats such as mince or sausages, always make sure they have been cooked through (i.e., no pink left).
  • Look for clear juices before serving chicken.
  • Heat all marinades and gravies containing raw meat juices to boiling point before serving.
  • If microwaving food, rotate and stir the food during microwaving to ensure that there are no unevenly cooked spots.
  • Allow cooked food to cool to about 45ºC before putting in the fridge. It is not essential to let it completely cool.

Food storage

  • Always follow storage and cooking instructions on packets of food.
  • Keep fridge temperature at 5ºC or less.
  • Store raw meats at the bottom of the fridge.
  • Store eggs in the fridge.
  • Avoid eating food that’s meant to be in the fridge if it has been left out of the fridge for over four hours.
  • Clean inside cupboards, fridge and freezer regularly.
  • Avoid allowing pets into the kitchen, feeding them in the kitchen or washing pet food bowls in the kitchen sink.

The longer that food is in the temperature danger zone (between 5ºC to 60ºC ) while preparing, cooking or storing – the more rapidly food poisoning bugs will multiply.

Are some people more likely to get food poisoning?

Yes, some people are more at risk of food poisoning and more likely to get really sick if they get it.

  • Pregnant women due to lower immune function.
  • People older than 65 years of age with underlying medical conditions, like diabetes.
  • People with compromised immune systems due to health problems like cancer, or autoimmune diseases e.g., multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, chronic conditions like HIV infection, or on treatments that affect the immune system such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy or immunosuppressant therapy.

High-risk foods

  • Raw meat
  • Seafood
  • Raw or lightly cooked eggs, including foods made from raw egg
  • Unpasteurised dairy products
  • Cooked rice or pasta not kept at correct temperatures
  • Pre-prepared salads e.g., coleslaw, pasta salads and fruit salads

For food safety tips while picnicking. Check out Our Guide to the Perfect Picnic.

Your Personal Healthy Eating Quiz

What you eat or don’t eat affects how you look, feel and perform. Take our short quiz to find out what foods you could introduce to help you be your best.

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What is healthy eating?

Eating healthy is making sure you enjoy a wide variety of foods from each of the five major food groups daily, in the amounts recommended. The five major food groups as recommended by the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating are:

  1. vegetables and legumes/bean
  2. fruit
  3. lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds, legumes/beans
  4. grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre varieties
  5. milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives, mostly reduced fat.

Foods are grouped together because they provide similar amounts of key nutrients and eating a variety of foods from the list above helps to promote good health and reduce the risk of disease.

How do I improve my diet?

If you want to improve your diet you have come to the right place. By completing the Healthy Eating Quiz you’ll receive instant personalised feedback and a report on your diet quality to highlight any areas where you can improve your overall eating habits. Your score is based on the frequency and variety of the foods consumed from the five major food groups mentioned above. No Money No Time can help you improve your score by providing tips, goals and suggestions. On top of this we will provide quick, cheap and healthy recipes as well as credible answers to diet hacks, myths and FAQ’s.

Is my diet healthy?

Dietary habits are different between people. Some people choose to follow a particular diet (i.e., Keto diet or vegan diet) while some have to make changes due to certain food restrictions or health conditions. If you want to know if what you usually eat is healthy, then do the Healthy Eating Quiz today to give you the answers in less than 10 minutes.

Why is healthy eating important?

Your HEQ score and personalised feedback report is based on the frequency and variety of healthy core foods you usually eat. This is important because no single food contains all the nutrients we need to stay healthy. Some foods are higher in nutrients than others and people who have a lot of variety in the foods they eat are more likely to be healthy and to stay healthy. In other words, if you can eat a large variety of vegetables as opposed to only 2-3 types of vegetables, the benefits are much greater. This type of diet also helps you to feel better, think better and perform better during your usual daily activities.

Take the Healthy Eating Quiz