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Food safety

Food safety is just as important as avoiding food waste.

Food poisoning can be caused by bacteria that has developed in foods because they were incorrectly cooked or stored. But there are some basic steps you can take to keep your food, and your family, safe and healthy.

Food safety basics 

Following these steps will help you ensure you love your food safely:

  • Wash your hands and keep them clean while preparing food.
  • Keep foods out of the ‘temperature danger zone’ of 5-60 degrees Celsius where bacteria can reproduce quickly.
  • Cook food thoroughly – make sure all food, in particular seafood, poultry and meat is cooked thoroughly. Heat kills most bacteria.
  • Prevent cross-contamination which can spread bacteria. Always store raw meats separate from ready-to-eat food. Ensure meat will not drip onto or touch other goods - place raw foods below cooked foods in the refrigerator. Keep chopping boards, plates and utensils for raw meat separate.
  • Get all hot food back in the fridge as soon as you can after a meal - you don't have to wait for it to cool completely, just for steam to stop rising. Store in shallow containers to help it cool faster.
  • If food has been out of the fridge for more than four hours, don't eat it.

Check out these short videos from the Better Health Channel for more information on how to cook, shop, store and eat food safely:

Better Health Channel video

Safe shelf life

The following table is a guide to the shelf-life of your food after you've purchased it.

The CSIRO recommends that the foods listed below are stored in the coldest part of your fridge. In most refrigerators the coolest section is near the coils.

Food item

Expected shelf-life in the home after purchase

Seafood 3 days
Poultry 3 days
Meat 3-5 days
Cured meat 2-3 weeks
Cream 5 days
Milk 5-7 days
Cottage, ricotta, cream cheeses 10 days
Soft cheeses 2-3 weeks
Hard cheeses Variable (1-3months)
Eggs 3-6 weeks
Butter 8 weeks

Variable (up to 6 months)

For further information about food safety visit the Better Health Channel website.


Love your food

Each year Victorian households throw out 1,000 tonnes of processed fruit.