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Plain English Allergen Labelling: New allergen labelling information requirements will be in effect from 25 Feb 2024 | Learn more

Food safety basics

Follow these key steps to food safety to reduce your risk of foodborne illness.

Keep it clean 

While most microorganisms do not cause disease, harmful microorganisms are widely found in soil, water, animals and people.

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with warm soapy water and dry them before handling food, as well as often during food preparation, especially after handling raw foods.
  • Always wash and dry your hands after going to the toilet.
  • Clean your bench surfaces, cutting boards, utensils, and dishes with hot, soapy water before, during, and after cooking.
  • Watch our video Food safety at home - Keep Things CLEAN.

Keep it separate 

Microorganisms from raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs can spread to fruits, vegetables, cooked foods and other ready-to-eat foods unless you keep them separate.

  • Use one cutting board and knife to prepare raw meats and another set for foods that will not be cooked before being eaten (e.g. salad ingredients).
  • Don't put cooked meat on a plate that had raw meat on it.
  • Store food in containers to avoid contact between raw and ready-to-eat foods.
  • Watch our video Food safety at home - Keep Things SEPARATE.

Cook it thoroughly

Proper cooking kills almost all harmful microorganisms.

  • Use a clean food thermometer to check that foods are cooked to a safe internal temperature.
  • In general, cooking food to 70°C in the centre will help ensure it is safe to eat.
  • FSANZ recommends cooking the following foods to at least 75°C in the centre:
    • all poultry (whole cuts, roast or mince) 
    • all meat that has been minced or rolled (beef, lamb, kangaroo or pork sausages, hamburgers, mince, or rolled roasts) 
    • liver and other offal.

Keep it cold or keep it hot 

Microorganisms can multiply very quickly if food is kept in the 'temperature danger zone' of 5-60oC.

  • Keep perishable food refrigerated at 5°C or colder.
  • If you're planning to cook and cool food for later use, cool it quickly (e.g. in shallow containers in the fridge). 
  • Do not leave cooked or other perishable food at room temperature for long:
    • if less than 2 hours you can put it back in the fridge 
    • between 2 and 4 hours, eat it straight away  
    • after 4 hours, throw it away.
  • Keep hot cooked food piping hot (more than 60°C) right up to serving.
  • If reheating cold food, reheat it quickly to piping hot.
  • Do not thaw frozen food at room temperature - thaw it in the fridge or use a microwave.
  • Keep perishable leftovers in the fridge and use them up within a few days.
  • Read guidance on Refrigerated storage of perishable foods from CSIRO.
  • Watch our videos: Food safety at home - Keep cold food COLD and Food safety at home - Leftovers.

Avoid foods that could be unsafe

  • Do not eat food that has passed its use by date.
  • If you are vulnerable to illness, avoid higher risk foods - read Food safety for vulnerable people to find out more.

For food businesses

All food businesses in Australia have to comply with requirements in the food safety standards

Page last updated 29 February 2024