Tom Huntley

Be food-savvy this Christmas

SOUTHERN Downs Regional Council is urging residents to keep food safety in mind all the time, but especially when preparing food for summer get-togethers and upcoming Christmas parties.

Acting manager of environmental services Brooke McKenzie said food-poisoning bacteria could survive and grow rapidly if food was left out.

"In temperatures above 5°C and under 60°C, these bacteria can potentially produce toxins that aren't destroyed by further cooking," she said.

"Council has an important role in regulating food safety in local commercial businesses, so this is perfect time to remind everyone about the importance of food safety everywhere, including in people's own homes as well."

Here are some simple tips for avoiding the temperature danger zone:

Keep your fridge at or below 5°C. Use a fridge thermometer to check that the temperature stays around 4-5°C.

Make sure you have enough fridge space as fridges won't work properly when they are overloaded or when food is packed tightly because the cold air cannot circulate.

If you are running out of room in your fridge, remove foods that are not potentially hazardous, such as alcoholic or soft drinks. The temperature of these foods is not critical and they can be kept cool in insulated containers with ice or cold packs.

Freshly cooked food not for immediate consumption should have the temperature reduced as quickly as possible. Divide into small portions and place in containers in the fridge or freezer as soon as it stops steaming.

Hot food needs to be kept and served at 60°C or hotter.

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