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Mixed Results on Australia’s Food Safety Report Card

August 22, 2022

On World Food Safety Day in June, the Food Safety Information Council released a report card on the food safety record of Australia.

Ensuring food is produced and consumed safely is critical in the prevention of food safety incidents, including food-borne illness. Each year, an estimated 4.1 million cases of food poisoning are reported in Australia resulting in over 31,000 hospitalisations, 1 million visits to doctors and 86 deaths. 

The goal of the Food Safety Information Council’s report card is to help educate consumers to reduce these statistics. The report this year saw mixed results. Here are some highlights:

The number of reported Salmonella cases has gone down

Reported cases of salmonellosis saw a 27% reduction in 2020, according to a study published by the Department of Health. This drop may have been related to the various COVID-19 public health measures that were implemented, including restaurant closures, border shut-downs, and physical distancing and hygiene advice.

Fewer people are washing raw chicken

Almost 50% of consumers said they wash raw whole chicken before cooking. That number has reduced by 10% since 2011. Washing uncooked chicken isn’t safe as it can result in cross-contamination to hands, sinks and other surfaces that are used for cooking. It is unnecessary to wash raw poultry as cooking it to a minimum internal temperature of 75℃ destroys dangerous bacteria.

Handwashing has also declined year-over-year

According to a national survey for Global Handwashing Day 2021, the average number of times Australians washed or sanitised their hands each day decreased by 15% year-over-year. When asked how often they lathered up, 16% of respondents couldn’t remember; however, the others reported an average of 6.7 times per day. The survey also highlighted a difference between the genders. Men said they washed their hands 5.9 times a day, versus women at 7.6 times a day. Proper hygiene habits are an important measure of food safety. 

Ensure you and your team are trained in food safety by taking a nationally recognised food safety course with Food Safety First. Contact the team for more information and to discuss your training needs.