2022 has arrived – and you’ve got a front-row ticket to view your New Year’s plans and goals in action. With the New Year in play, people worldwide are crafting new resolutions to make this year exceptional.

From small changes such as reading more, exercising more, spending more time with family – to significant life changes including weight loss goals, improving one’s health, and quitting smoking. Most resolutions are created with the same thing in mind – to improve our lifestyle, happiness, and health.

Whatever resolution you do decide on, do it with determination and drive.

Food safety generally does not make the cut when it comes to new resolutions and is often overlooked. If you’re planning to make your health a priority this year – a great way to start is by making your food safety resolutions and educating yourself.

According to the NSW Government Food Authority, there are an estimated 4.1 billion cases of food poisoning each and every year. It’s incredibly common, yet most cases can be prevented with the right knowledge and precautions. Foodborne illnesses are severe and exceptionally dangerous to vulnerable people, pregnant women, young children, and infants. The risk is real.

Resolutions to remember

Food safety resolutions will benefit not just yourself, but your entire family. Being mindful of food safety and educating yourself on the dangers ensures you are protecting yourself and others from unnecessary illness. Threats to food safety are constantly evolving and changing. Keep ahead of your health and remember these practical tips that will help keep you and your loved ones safe.

1) Every safe meal starts with you washing your hands

This might seem like an obvious statement but so many people become complacent while cooking in their own homes. Get into the habit of the 20-second rule. Wash your hands thoroughly using warm water and handwash for 20 seconds, before handling any food ingredients or kitchen items, then air dry or use a single-use paper towel. You might be relaxed at home – but during the day; you might have petted your dog, taken out the rubbish, changed a nappy, or handled chemicals. Residual micro bacteria have a lasting effect and you don’t need to be adding them as an extra ingredient to your next dish.

2) Invest in a decent food thermometer

How well do you know your internal temperatures? Are you timing your meat to accurate core temperatures, or simply taking a wild guess and hoping for the best? Food thermometers are a must-have for every single person who cooks in their kitchen. From egg dishes, cooked meat, poultry, and seafood – checking the temperature of the food you plan to serve is absolutely critical to your safety. Using a food thermometer is the only accurate method of ensuring food is hot enough to kill off pathogens and harmful bacteria.

3) Don’t ever cook for others if you are sick

It goes without saying that if you are feeling ill then you should stay away from the kitchen. You’ve likely heard of restaurants closing down due to well-publicised foodborne illness outbreaks. When a worker prepares food while ill, they are maximising the risk of illness to the customers consuming their food. While you may not be a restaurant worker, the risk is still the same, and the consequence can be extreme and even life-threatening. Even if it is only a cold or flu type illness – if you are coughing and sneezing, it’s better to let someone else do the kitchen prep for a day.

4) The art of separation

Surprisingly, you can get a very accurate assessment of what a person’s food safety awareness level is by simply viewing their chopping boards. Use one board for cooked meats, one for raw meats, one specifically for fruit and vegetables, and one for dairy products. And never ‘mix and match’. Cross-contamination is a serious issue and a driving force towards escalating foodborne illness.

5) The chill zone

It’s one thing to know how to cook your meats properly – it’s another to be aware of cooling temperatures and procedures. Most restaurants blast-chill cooked products within a specific time frame to reduce the risks. How long have you had that roast sitting out on the bench? When was the last time you did a temperature check on your fridge? Many refrigerators these days have a colder/cool adjustment – the best way to know what temperature your fridge is set on is to put a thermometer inside.

Food safety handling is vital to the health and well-being of yourself and your family. Be smart. Educate yourself about the risks and train yourself to be aware of the dangers.