Huge majority don’t understand safe cooking

Aussies may be great consumers of cooking shows on TV, but this doesn’t translate to a good understanding of food risks

New data shows that 70% of Australians don’t know the safe cooking temperature for high-risk foods like hamburgers, sausages and poultry.

The survey results have been released by the Food Safety Information Council ahead of Food Safety Information Week (11-18 November).

The Council was “amazed” at these results, says its chair, Rachelle Williams.

“Even worse, of those that reported they did know the correct temperature, most were wrong with 15% saying below the safe temperature of 75°C and 9% stating it should be 100°C or more, which would be a pretty burnt piece of food,” Ms Williams says.

“Coupled with this lack of knowledge, is another of our surveys which found 75% of Australians surveyed reported that there wasn’t a meat thermometer in their household and only 44% of those with a thermometer reported using it over the previous month.

“With an estimated 4.1 million cases of food poisoning in Australia each year, and escalating rates of Campylobacter and Salmonella infection in Australia, we are encouraging all Australians to pick up a food thermometer from their local homeware store and learn how to use it properly.”

The Council offers a range of food safety tips as well as a poster which can be displayed in kitchens as well as other venues.

  • Red meat or pork that is minced, stuffed, rolled or boned or is mechanically tenderised (with small holes in the surface to penetrate into the meat) or corned beef pumped with brine using needles will be contaminated by bacteria throughout so must be cooked to 75°C in the centre. This also applies to red meat livers.
  • Any poultry such as chicken, ducks or turkey (including their livers) will also be contaminated throughout whether they are whole or minced so they must be cooked to 75°C in the thickest part near the centre.
  • Leftovers should be reheated to 75°C in the centre and make sure they are stirred to ensure an even temperature.
  • Eggs and egg dishes, such as quiche, should be cooked until 72°C in the centre (or until the white is firm and the yolk thickens).
  • When using a food thermometer, place it in the thickest part of the food away from bone, fat or gristle.

Foods which are only contaminated on the outside can be cooked to the person’s taste. These include steaks, chops, pieces and whole roasts.

Pork in whole cuts can be cooked like red meat, but is better quality if pork steaks and pieces are cooked to 70°C and roasts to between 70°C and 75°C. Fish fillets can be cooked to around 69°C or when flesh flakes easily.

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