Australia’s Lack of Food Safety Education Enhances Food Poisoning Risk

Australians are regularly putting themselves in the firing-line for food poisoning, when they prepare food at home.
August 21, 2016

Many of us believe that the only way we’re going to get food poisoning is through badly cooked chicken or an impromptu barbecue that has just gone wrong.

However, it appears that Australians are regularly putting themselves in the firing-line for food poisoning when they prepare food at home.

A study conducted by Thermos Australia has revealed shocking results regarding food safety education. According to surveys, over half (51%) of all Australians do not know enough about food temperature danger zones to keep their food safe and healthy, putting them at risk of food poisoning.

The evidence provided by Thermos has shown that a huge 42% of the Australian population admit that they had heard of food danger zones in the past, but didn’t know a lot about them, whereas an additional 9% of people confessed that they had no idea what they were at all.

Food Temperature Danger Zones

The recent research conducted suggests that Australians do not know enough about the temperature ranges in which food-borne bacteria can thrive, typically between five and sixty degrees Celsius.

Although Thermos discovered that around two-thirds of Australians bring their own packed lunch to work from home, around thirteen percent of them comment that they leave their food unrefrigerated between leaving home on the morning and eating at lunchtime. Julia Madden, executive officer for the Food Safety Information Council, suggested that this was particularly dangerous, as food becomes increasingly vulnerable to bacteria after sitting for two hours or more.

The Impact of the Study

The marketing manager at Thermos Australia, Paul Fitzgerald, noted that the research his company had carried out regarding Australia’s attitude to food safety and correct storage should ‘serve as a stern warning’ to individuals and parents who may be carrying around unhealthy, potentially damaging foods.

According to the NSW Food Authority, 4.1 million Australians, or approximately one in four people, experience some form of food poisoning every year. Furthermore, figures from the Food Safety Information Council suggest that food poisoning causes 1.2 million doctor visits, 2.1 million days of lost work, and 120 deaths per year.
Overall, food poisoning is estimated to cost the economy approximately $1.25 billion each year.

Manufacturers should provide Better Education

Australian parents were found to know the most about food safety and the temperature danger zone, with over 74% of Australians gaining their education from their parents. However, 51% of Australians believe that food manufacturers should be expected to provide a better education for consumers regarding dangerous bacteria and temperature zones. A further 48% of the nation suggested that governments, schools, day-care centres, and workplaces should also recognise a responsibility to teach people about safe food practices.