Safe Food - Consumers
Food poisoning occurs when you have consumed food or drink that has been contaminated by harmful bacteria, viruses or toxins. It can produce symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhoea, and/or fever. In many cases the effects of foodborne illness are only mild but sometimes the symptoms can lead to serious illness. In rare cases, foodborne illness can result in long-term health problems and even death. Some people are extremely vulnerable, no matter what type of pathogen is involved. These include:
- Very young children
- Pregnant women
- The elderly, and
- People with compromised immune systems
Some people may become ill after ingesting only a few harmful organisms while others may remain symptom free after ingesting thousands. We often believe that it was the last meal we ate that made us sick. Although this can be the case, it is often unlikely. The most common types of food poisoning bacteria take around 2-5 days to multiply to a level that will cause symptoms, and sometimes up to 10 days. Therefore it is more likely to be a meal ate several days before that actually made you ill. It is not always food that will produce vomiting and diarrhoea symptoms. The bacteria may have been consumed from a water source, or from a contaminated surface.
What should I do if I suspect that I am suffering from food poisoning?
- See your GP and provide a stool sample to ascertain what has caused your illness.
- If you have some of the food that you think has caused the symptoms left over, put it in the freezer as we may be able to test it for food poisoning bacteria.
- Also, if you have a receipt for the food, keep that too.
- If you suspect it was from consuming food purchased from within the City of Cockburn contact us on 9411 3589. If the food was purchased outside the City, contact the relevant Council.
- The more information you provide us with the better. Jot down all the details surrounding the purchase of the food, time eaten, symptoms, if any other family members are affected, where you purchased the food and if you reported your illness to the food business.
- The Environmental Health Officer dealing with your request may send any remaining food for analysis and visit the food business to carry out an investigation. Laboratory results for food analysis take between 5-14 days to be finalised.
- If the complaint is made about a food that was manufactured outside the City of Cockburn, the matter may need to be referred to another agency for investigation.
For more information on food poisoning, refer to the following pamphlets:
For further information please refer to the Department of Health website.
Restaurants - Taking home leftover food (Doggy Bags)
Many restaurant customers chose to take home leftover food for a family member or themselves to eat, however there are potential food safety risks involved in doing this. For more information refer to the following document:
Food Hygiene and Safety In Your Home
Remember the following tips when you are preparing food from home:
- Wash Your Hands - The most important barrier to stopping transferring germs and dirt from you to your food is washing your hands. Use warm water and soap and dry thoroughly.
- Keep Cold Foods Cold - that is 5oC or less, check with a fridge thermometer.
- Keep Hot Foods Hot - Don't let hot food sit out at room temperature for extended periods of time. Time your cooking so your hot food does not require re-heating. Hot foods must be maintained at 60oC to inhibit bacterial growth.
- Keep Raw & Cooked Foods Separate - Use separate utensils and chopping boards when preparing raw and cooked foods. Make sure that all foods are covered when stored, and always store raw food at the bottom of the fridge to prevent raw juices dripping on to cooked food.
- Cooling and Storing Hot Foods - If you want to keep cooked foods for later use, a simple rule is to cool the food to room temperature within 2 hours and to fridge temperature within 4 hours.
- Keep your kitchen and utensils clean - keeping your kitchen clean will deter pests, as there is no food source for them. If you use baits around your kitchen, mark on your calendar when they need to be changed - the label on the packet will tell you this. Old baits may become a food source with dirt and dust building up inside the bait.
- Defrost Safely - When defrosting food, put it in the fridge overnight or use your microwave defrost setting.
- Don't cook for others if you are unwell - if you are experiencing food poisoning symptoms you could easily pass your germs on to others.
Refer to the following pamphlet for further information: