Australians are incorrectly blaming the ‘off’ milk at the back of the fridge for food poisoning rather than much more risky raw egg dishes according to a national OmniPoll survey commissioned for Australian Food Safety Week.

Food Safety Information Council Chair, Rachelle Williams, says that the research found that most people correctly recognised that chicken (95%), minced meat (90%) and seafood (96%) are food poisoning risks if not handled properly.

Milk is unlikely to be a problem as pasteurisation kills any dangerous bacteria.

“What is of concern is that fewer people (83%) identified raw egg dishes as a problem and 12% even considered raw egg dishes unlikely to be a risk,” she says.

“An increase in Salmonella outbreaks in recent years is linked to raw or minimally cooked egg dishes such as hand made aioli and mayonnaise.

“These types of food need to be handled and prepared with extra care to avoid causing food poisoning,’ Williams says.

In addition to the myth about ‘off’ milk being to blame, the Council is also highlighting other common food poisoning myths that can be busted:

  1. If I get food poisoning it was the last meal I ate. Everyone blames the last thing they ate but some forms of food poisoning can take days or even weeks to eventuate, the Council says.
  2. You can tell if chicken or minced meat dishes are cooked safely by tasting or if the juices run clear. A thermometer is the only way to know food is cooked correctly to an internal 75°C.
  3. Food poisoning is mild and just a bit of gastro. While vomiting and diarrhea are the most common symptoms, food poisoning in extreme forms can cause reactive arthritis, kidney or nerve damage and hepatitis. Each year food poisoning results in 31,920 hospitalisations, 86 deaths and 1 million visits to doctors.
  4. If you are a vegetarian, your risk of food poisoning is low. Food poisoning outbreaks have been caused by fruit and vegetable food items such as rockmelon, frozen berries, semi-dried tomatoes, orange juice, salad items and cooked rice.
  5. Home-made mayonnaises and aiolis are better than the commercial ones. These are a major cause of food poisoning outbreaks in Australia. Consumers who make their own mayonnaise or aioli should prepare small amounts and use immediately.
  6. If you’ve defrosted frozen meat or chicken it can’t be safely refrozen. From a safety point of view it is fine to refreeze defrosted meat or chicken or any frozen food as long as it was defrosted in a fridge running at 5°C or below. There may be some loss of quality in defrosting then refreezing as the cells break down a little and the food can become slightly watery.