Food safety as party season hits

In 2009 there were just over 27,000 cases of food borne illness reported to the Australian government, affecting some 2680 people, with 342 hospitalisations and eight deaths. This is the tip of the iceberg, as most people don’t report food poisoning and only 20% seek medical help.

Food borne illness at home

Many cases of food poisoning originate at home or at functions where food is prepared and cooked for a large number of people – for instance, parties for the festive season and school and community fetes and events. Safe food handling practices are essential to avoid food-borne illness (see box). 

Causes of food borne illness

There are several bacteria that can cause food poisoning.2

• Salmonella – can be found in raw meat, poultry, eggs and dairy; outbreaks have also been associated with mayonnaise, salads and juice contamination.