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Food Safety

Food Safety refers to handling, preparing and storing food in a way to best reduce the risk of becoming ill from contaminated food. The principles of food safety aim to prevent food from becoming contaminated and causing food poisoning. Keeping food safe is as easy as clean, separate, cook and chill.

CLEAN: Wash your hands and make sure you have clean cooking surfaces.

Bacteria can be spread all around the kitchen and get onto hands, cutting boards, utensils, counter tops and food!

  • Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after touching food, playing with pets and after using the bathroom.
  • Wash your cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and countertops with hot soapy water after preparing each food item and before you go on to the next food.
  • Wash fresh fruits and vegetables under running tap water, including those with skins.

SEPARATE: Keep fresh & raw food apart.

Cross-contamination is how bacteria can be spread. When handling raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs, keep these foods away from ready-to-eat foods.

  • Use one cutting board for veggies and fruit, and a different one for raw meat, poultry and seafood. If you only have one board, chop all veggies first and raw meat last.
  • Wash hands & benches after preparing raw meat
  • Wash all cutting boards, utensils & knives in hot soapy water
  • Never put cooked food on a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry, seafood or eggs.

COOK: Cook food at high temperatures

Cook on high heat and make sure food is cooked thoroughly.

  • Eat food immediately after it's been cooked.
  • Put leftovers in a container, wait for food to cool down until steam is no longer rising.

CHILL: Refrigerate leftovers & fresh food promptly

Refrigerate foods quickly because cold temperatures slow the growth of harmful bacteria.

  • Refrigerate or freeze meat, poultry, eggs and other food that can go bad as soon as you get it home from the supermarket.
  • Never let raw meat, poultry, eggs, cooked food or cut fresh fruits or vegetables sit at room temperature more than two hours before putting them in the refrigerator or freezer.
  • Never defrost food at room temperature. Food must be kept at a safe temperature during thawing. There are four safe ways to defrost food:

         - In the refrigerator

         - In the microwave.

         - As part of the cooking process

          -Under cold running water

For more detailed information on each defrosting method click here.

How to store food safely

Nutrition Australia has provided some information on how to store food safely and to help it stay fresh for longer.  Here are their top tips!

To begin:

  • Clean your fridge before unpacking your food shopping
  • Wipe down every shelf.
  • Throw out any old food.
  • Arrange old food in front of the fridge.


  • Clean vegetables before storing them in the fridge
  • Place foods like onion, potato, garlic and ginger in the pantry.
  • Store vegetables in the crisper at the bottom of your fridge.
  • To prevent wilting, carrots & celery  can be stored in water.
  • Store vegetables in a container when the fridge crisper is full.
  • To prevent waste, older vegetables can be diced and stored in the freezer in an airtight container to be used later in soups, stews and curries.


  • Put apples, berries and grapes in the crisper at the bottom of your fridge.
  • Place fruits like bananas and citrus in a bowl on the table or kitchen bench.
  • Stone fruits can also be put in the fruit bowl on the table to ripen, then transferred to the fridge.
  • Most fruits can also be stored in the freezer.

Meat, Dairy & Eggs

  • Store meat, dairy and eggs on the bottom shelf of your fridge.
  • Put any extra meat in the freezer to use later.

Grains & Canned foods

  • Place grains like rice and pasta in the cupboard.
  • Cans can also go in the cupboard in a cool, dry spot.

Download fact sheet

Watch this video for some step by strep tips on how to store fresh food safely!

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