Christmas safety

BE CAREFUL: The elderly, young and pregnant are more susceptible to food poisoning. Don't take short cuts with handling food and storing it at Christmas.
BE CAREFUL: The elderly, young and pregnant are more susceptible to food poisoning. Don't take short cuts with handling food and storing it at Christmas.

The Christmas and New Year season marks the jolliest time of year. It is a chance to let our hair down, stop, relax and unwind. And why not? We deserve it. 

But it is for this reason Christmas can quickly turn into a disaster. 

Food poisoning, accidents and even fires can break out if we don’t take heed of safety warnings. 

Food safety

A griping in your guts, vomiting and diarrhoea await those who fail to take precautions with handling and storing food. 

It’s a recipe for disaster, according to the Australian Food Safety Information Council’s Lydia Buchtmann. 

“Christmas can be a recipe for disaster as we prepare fancy dishes we haven’t cooked before, overload our fridges in the heat and serve food to elderly, young and pregnant friends and relatives,” she said. 

“We know from our latest research that only 25 per cent of Australian households own a fridge thermometer and even fewer report using one in the previous month.

“You can’t tell if riskier foods like the Christmas turkey or rolled roasts are cooked to 75 degrees just by looking, you really need a meat thermometer.”

The council is encouraging people to purchase one or give one as a gift to ensure food is cooked safely every time. You can also follow these handy council tips: 

  • Don’t buy too much food that you can’t fit in your fridge.
  • Make room in your fridge by removing drinks and put them on ice in a container or laundry sink. This stops guests opening the fridge. Use a fridge thermometer to make sure your fridge is running at 5 degrees or below.
  • Don’t wash poultry before cooking as that will spread the bacteria around your kitchen.
  • Avoid raw or minimally cooked egg dishes, such as raw egg mayonnaise or aoli or fancy desserts, which can be a risk for food poisoning.
  • Christmas ham won’t last forever. Check the storage instructions and best before or use by date before removing the ham from its plastic wrap, cover it with clean cloth soaked in water and vinegar so it doesn’t dry out, and store it in the fridge below 5 degrees.
  • Don’t leave dips and perishables like patés, cold meats and salads out for more than two hours.
  • Leftovers – When cooked food has stopped steaming, refrigerate or freeze immediately. Use up refrigerated leftovers within three days and make sure your fridge is running at 5 degrees or below. Always reheat leftovers to 75 degree in the centre of the item to kill any food poisoning bugs.

Christmas lights

One of the highlights of the Christmas season is the opportunity to bring joy to others with Christmas decorations and lights. 

You can ensure a safe display by following simple safety tips: 

SAFETY COMES FIRST: For more tips on Christmas light safety visit your local energy supplier's website.

SAFETY COMES FIRST: For more tips on Christmas light safety visit your local energy supplier's website.

  • Before putting up lights on the tree inspect the wiring and bulbs for signs of damage. If damaged, replace them. 
  • Use lights made to Australian Safety Standards.
  • Use indoor lights indoors and outdoor lights outdoors. Each are designed for the use specified for a reason. 
  • Don’t overcrowd power sockets with multiple double adapters. Use power boards fitted with overload protection. Never piggyback the plugs. 
  • When decorating the house ensure you use a sturdy ladder and wear proper shoes. You can easily find yourself in hospital from a fall if you fail to take the time with your own safety. 
  • Turn off lights before going to bed. 
  • Ensure smoke detectors are installed and in good working order.