Food Safety

Food safety is a term which describes those everyday things which we do to prevent becoming sick from eating foods.

Australia produces some of the most wholesome and safe products in the world. But even so, it is estimated that 1.5 million Australians are still afflicted by some type of food – borne illness each year.

Food – borne illness is usually caused by bacteria called pathogens. These can either be present on foods, or can be passed from you to the food. You cannot tell just by looking at food, smelling it, or tasting the food if it contains pathogens – they are so small – millions of them alone would fit on a pin head!

The golden rule for food and safety is to keep HOT foods HOT and COLD foods COLD – never just warm! Bacteria thrive in temperatures between 5 o C. Hot means steaming hot and cold means at refrigerated temperatures or below.

There are things you can do to reduce the risk of food – borne illness – and a good place to start is at the beginning – when you purchase food!

Shopping & Food Safety

Food retailers, like supermarkets, maintain rigid food safety standards to ensure that you always receive the very best! But once you purchase food, it is then your responsibility to take the same care of it.

Shopping is the first stage where you can take this responsibility. Not only can you look for certain signs to ensure you receive a safe product, but there are also things you can do yourself!

It’s easy…..and here's how!

What To Look For When Shopping

All food retailers and food producers have a responsibility to provide you with safe food. But, even so, there are certain things which you should look for e.g. Damaged packaging. Check the product very carefully for any signs of the following:

  • Dented Cars

  • Leaking cartons, cans, bottles or containers

  • Torn or ripped packaging

  • Swollen chilled food packages and cans

  • Cracked eggs

  • Broken or imperfect seals

  • Dairy products and other chilled or frozen foods left out of refrigerators

  • Products with moulds, discolouration or infestation

  • Products in loose vacuum packs

NEVER purchase such products.

They may be contaminated with dangerous levels of bacteria.

Report such findings to the state manager.

  • If you get home and then find some evidence of tampering or package damage – return the product to the store or call the manufacturer.

  • Always check the date mark on foods, especially foods with a short shelf life such as dairy products. The date mark will be in the form of a “use by” or a “best before” date. This date mark indicates the date by which the food will be at its best quality. After the date, the food may still be OK, but check it very carefully for any signs of deterioration. If in doubt, don’t buy it.

  • Products should not be overloaded in supermarket fridges and freezers. Chilled foods need to be kept at a constant low temperature in order for bacterial growth to be kept on hold. Note the black line in the fridges with the words “Load Limit” written above. Retailers should never have any product above this line!

  • If product is labeled as “Keep Refrigerated”, or “Keep Chilled” and is not in chilled storage don’t buy it.

  • When buying food from the deli counter, ensure staff use separate tongs for each food type.

What You Can Do When Shopping

Always choose refrigerated and frozen foods towards the end of your shopping trip such as meat, dairy products, deli products, ice-cream, frozen meals. Frozen foods should be rock hard and chilled foods cold to the touch.

Save hot chickens and other hot cooked foods for later in the trip too. Keep them separated from frozen and chilled products!

Try not to overload your trolley – this can result in damaged packaging and quality loss for many foods.


Ask the packer or retailer to pack raw meats in a separate bag from other products – this prevents juices from tainting other products.

And lastly, always go directly home. Don’t leave your groceries in a hot car. If you are traveling long distances (over half and hour), place your chilled and frozen products into an insulated cooler for the trip home. If you anticipate a long drive home, avoid buying hot foods.

When you arrive home, immediately pack chilled and frozen products into the refrigerator or freezer.

Self Service Salad / Dessert Bars

Self service salad/dessert bars are becoming more popular in supermarkets. These convenience type foods are great for the busy person!  A few simple rules, however, will ensure that you enjoy these foods safely:

  • Always take a container from the dispenser

  • Each salad or dessert has its own utensil. Use the one which is allocated to the item and don’t mix the serving utensils. Only hold the utensil by the handle.

  • Foods purchased from the salad bars should be eaten within 48 hours.

  • Check the instructions provided by the supermarket on how to use the self-service area in a hygienic manner.

  • The self-service area should be supervised by a staff member.

  • Always remember that other people will use the bar, so never touch the food with your hands and do not taste the foods. If you see anyone handling the food, report it to a staff member.


Did You Know?

  • In 1995, Australians purchased 1.1 billion takeaway and fast food meals.

  • We spend more than 27 cents in every dollar of household food expenditure on eating out and takeaway meals.

  • The three most popular takeaway items are sandwiches, chips and hamburgers.

What Does This Mean?

Our busy lifestyle has created a booming industry for restaurants and takeaway outlets. Many of us no longer have time to prepare meals and with the variety of foods you can buy it’s a great way to eat.

But ssuch convenience also causes problems. How do you know if the food you are about to eat is safe?

Every year around 1.5 million Australian’s are afflicted by some type of illness from eating foods.

Some bacteria called pathogens can cause food related illness. Salmonella is a pathogen you may have heard of.

These types of bacteria can either be present on the food to begin with, or can be placed there, through bad handling, storage, or preparation of food.

Common types of food which bacteria thrive on include meat, chicken, seafood, dairy products, eggs and even cooked rice. These types of products are full of proteins and nutrients – and just like us, bacteria love such energy foods.

The risk of food borne illness is virtually eliminated, if foods are handled and cooked properly, and eaten immediately.

Takeaway bars and restaurants do have a responsibility to ensure that the food you receive is safe and wholesome. But there are things you can do as well….

Food Premises

Take care when choosing where to eat or purchase takeaway food. When you enter the premises look for the following:

Is It Clean? Dirty floors, work surfaces and tables can carry bacteria and attract pests. And if the owners can’t keep their premises clean, chances are they can’t keep your food clean.

Are The Staff Well Presented? A neat appearance is important – clean hands and nails, hair should be tied back and the uniform should be clean.

Can You See The Food Being Prepared? If you can see your food being prepared and cooked, look to see if it is being done in a hygienic manner. How is your food being handled? It is better if the person uses tongs rather than gloves, unless the gloves are changed between each task.

Hints For Eating Out

One of the golden rules for food safety is to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold – remember this rule.

Foods which should be steaming hot include all cooked foods served to you, food in hot display cabinets, and takeaway or delivered foods. Eat these foods immediately – while they are still hot.

Cold foods should be cold to the touch and should be displayed either on ice, or in refrigerated conditions.

Pre made sandwiches and rolls containing perishables such as cheese, eggs and meat should always be under refrigeration!  Do not buy such products if they are not.

Certain foods should be cooked thoroughly. Ground meat such as mice, sausages, hamburger patties and rolled roasts and chicken must be cooked right through. There should be no pink meat and juices should run clear.

Steaks and whole roasts can be cooked to your preference, although very rare is not recommended.

If you are presented with an undercooked product, send it back! Remember to ask for fresh accompaniments such as vegetables, as juices from the undercooked products could have contaminated these.

If food is taken away from the restaurant (e.g. Doggie Bags) take it home immediately and put it in the refrigerator. Eat within a day.

Salad Bars And Self Service

Self – service in restaurants and takeaway outlets is becoming increasingly popular. But before you purchase food from such places, make a few simple checks.

There should be clear instructions given by the restaurant on how to use the self-service area in a hygienic manner.

The self – service area should be supervised by a staff member.

Serving temperatures should be safe – hot foods need to be hot and cold foods cold.

Clean dishes should be provided (or able to be requested) for second trips.

Food should be protected with a guard – usually a clear plastic cover, extending over the food. This can protect the food if people sneeze or cough.

The utensils provided should have long handles so that there is no risk of your hands coming into contact with the food. Separate utensils need to be provided for each product. Hold utensils only by the handle.

And always remember that other people will use the bar, so never touch the food with your hands and do not taste the foods with the utensils the restaurant supplies. If you see anyone else handling the foods, report it to a staff member.

So Remember

When eating out or purchasing takeaway food, check the following:

Cleanliness of staff and surroundings

Temperature control, perishable foods should be kept and stored either very hot (steaming hot) or very cold (refrigerator cold).

Foods should be cooked adequately, particularly chicken and hamburgers.

And One Final Point....

If you are not happy with the food safety aspects of a restaurant or takeaway, do not return there to eat. Explain clearly to management the reasons why you are not happy or contact your Local Government Environmental Health Officer.


Did You Know?

Around 1.5 million Australians are afflicted by food related illnesses each year!

And there is a lot you can do to prevent this happening to you!

What Causes Food– Borne Illness?

Some types of bacteria can cause food related illnesses. These are called pathogens.

Food that contains dangerous levels of pathogens may not look, smell or taste any different from food, which is safe.

Bacteria multiply on most foods if given the chance – particularly if the temperature is between 5 o C and 60 o C. This tells us that we must keep foods either very cold (refrigerator cold) or very hot (steaming hot).

Common types of food which bacteria love include chicken, seafood, eggs, red meats, dairy products and even cooked rice. These foods contain lots of proteins and nutrients, and bacteria love these energy foods.

The risk of food poisoning is virtually eliminated if food is properly handled, stored correctly, cooked sufficiently and eaten immediately.

What You Can Do…… Storage

Foods need to be stored properly – both to retain their nutrient value and to keep them safe. As a general rule, store all foods as directed on the label, and follow these simple rules:

Store raw meats near the bottom of the fridge to ensure that juices do not drip onto other foods. Or place meat into a covered tray or container within the fridge. Use within 2 – 3 days, or check the use by date.

Freeze meat and chicken, which you don’t intend to use before the use by date. Freezing generally extends the use by date. Frozen storage times for a range of products are given below. Although food is safe to eat beyond these times, there can be some loss in eating quality.


(-18 O C)

Beef Roasts

4 – 6 Months

Ground Beef (Mince)

2 – 3 Months


1 – 2 Months

Beef Steaks

3 – 4 Months

Beef Casserole

2 – 3 Months

Lamb Roast (Whole)

4 – 6 Months

Lamb Chops

2 – 3 Months

Lamb Casserole

2 – 3 Months


1 Month

Pork Chops

3 – 4 Months

Pork Roast

4 – 6 Months


1 – 2 Months

Whole Chicken

4 – 6 Months

Chicken Portions

3 Months

Lean Fish (e.g. Whiting)

4 Months

Oily Fish (e.g. Mackerel)

3 Months

* Source: CSIRO & AMLC

For frozen storage, it is best to remove the product from the store wrap and place into freezer bags to maintain quality. Expel all air from the bag, tie, label and date the bag.

Most importantly, check the temperature of your refrigerator using a fridge thermometer. It should be 4 o C or less, and your freezer should be around minus 18 o C.

Thawing Of Frozen Product

Thaw meat and other foods in the fridge, and only in the microwave if using the product immediately thereafter.

To maintain the up most safety, do not thaw food at room temperature (on a bench) or in water.

Once thawed, cook immediately. Thawed meats should not be refrozen in their uncooked state. If thawed meat is cooked in a meal such as a casserole it is safe to freeze.

Handling And Preparation

Bacteria can be passed to and from people, surfaces, food, animals and even to and from raw and cooked foods. This is known as cross contamination and can be avoided in the following ways:

Wash hands in hot soapy water for around 30 seconds before preparing food and after touching raw meats.

Encourage other people to prepare food if you are feeling unwell.

Use a different chopping board and utensils when preparing foods which are “ready to eat” like a salad, and those which are “to be cooked”, like meat. If you have only one chopping board, wash well with hot soapy water before re- using.

Use different utensils for cooked foods and never place cooked foods on plates which have contained raw products such as meat, poultry and fish.




When cooking mince, sausages, hamburger patties, rolled roasts and chicken, ensure they are cooked right through and there is no pink meat.

Steaks and whole roasts can be cooked to your preference, although very rare is not recommended.

If you have access to a meat thermometer, it is always good to check the
internal temperatures. In the case of hamburgers and poultry, aim for around 75 o C.

Microwaves are a quick and convenient way to cook foods, however they tend to heat foods rather unevenly, leaving cold spots. So when microwaving foods, always rotate and stir products during  cooking to promote more even cooking. And wait until standing time is over before you check that cooking is complete – foods continue to cook even when the microwave is turned off.


Place leftovers in the refrigerator to cool when the steam has evaporated. Do not leave to completely cool on the bench.

When reheating foods, heat to steaming hot (above 75 o C) this will kill any bacteria which may have grown on the food in the fridge. If you still have leftover product – throw it away – do not reheat product more than once and use all leftovers within a day of preparation.


Wash all work surfaces well with hot soapy water.

Dirty dishes should be washed in warm soapy water and then rinsed in hot water. It is preferable to leave dishes to air dry, but don’t place a tea towel over them as this will only spread bacteria from the tea towel onto the clean dishes. Change your tea towel when it becomes soiled or wet.

Change your dish cloth regularly and wash well after each use (bacteria can thrive in dishcloths). It is better to use paper towels for cleaning as these cannot be reused.

Clean your fridge and cupboards regularly. Crumbs in cupboards can attract pests and dirty fridges can carry bacteria.


One Last Reminder......

Be extra careful preparing and cooking foods for young children, the pregnant, elderly and sick people. They are particularly susceptible to food – borne illness.

Handy Hints

Wash your hands well before preparing foods.

Store raw meat near the bottom of the fridge to ensure juices do not dip onto other foods.

Buy a thermometer to regularly check the temperature of your fridge and freezer.

A meat thermometer is also a useful tool in checking the internal temperatures of foods during cooking.


Environmental health is concerned with the study of all physical, chemical, biological and social conditions, which have an impact on human health.

The national environmental health strategy gives credence to the importance of environmental health in this country – “It’s the cornerstone of public health”.

Urbanization and over population has emphasized the fact that the condition other environment is integral to the health of humans. These have contributed to an increase in the contamination levels of our air, soil and water. Chemical pollutants and global climate change have also heightened our concern with the environmental health of our community.

Practitioners working in Environmental Health are involved in promoting healthy environments and managing environmental factors that affect human health. This includes all measures necessary to deal with issues such as:

Environmental degradation

Climate change

Contaminated food and water

Chemical exposure

Waste management

Disaster management

Public health

What Activities Occur In Environmental Health?

- The following environmental health activities occur across all levels of government.

- Development of strategies, e.g. protecting health in disaster and emergency situations.

- Environmental Health advice, e.g. environmental health research and public education

- Reviewing and developing health and environment legislation

 - Managing the physical environment and chemical, biological and social hazards.

  • Physical Environment, e.g. water and food safety, waste management, injury prevention and noise control and air quality.

  • Chemical hazards, e.g. pesticide safety, contaminated sites, tobacco control

  • Biological hazards, e.g. insects and pests, vector borne diseases, microbiological control.

  • Social conditions, e.g. drug, tobacco and alcohol abuse, appropriate housing, social isolation and community planning and networks.

Who Works In Environmental Health

Practitioners working in the area of environmental health come from a variety of disciplines and professions. Traditionally, an Environmental Health Officer managed these issues at either a state or local government level. However with the increased awareness of the integral relationship that our health has with our environment, many other health and environment related professionals are involved in all aspects of improving environmental health. Practitioners working to improve Environmental Health include:
  • Environmental Health Officers
  • Health Promotion Practitioners
  • Nutritionists
  • Health Educators
  • Home Economists
  • Nurses
  • Doctors
  • Food Technologists
  • Toxicologists
  • Environmental Health Consultants
  • Risk Assessment Practitioners
  • Environmental Scientists
  • Environmental Engineers
  • Town Planners
  • Waste Management Consultants
  • Environmental Educators
  • Environmental Impact Consultants

Have You Ever Thought About Working In The Area Of Environmental Health?

There are many ways to work with the community to improve Environmental Health, e.g.

  • Train to be an Environmental Health Officer by completing a Bachelor of Science or Health Science in Environmental Health at University. These degrees provide knowledge and skills in the scientific aspect of environmental health integrated with an understanding of administrative and legal processes.

  • You can also become a Public Health Professional who works promoting healthy behavior within the community and industry in order to prevent a number of conditions and illnesses.

  • Environmental Scientists and Engineers also work in the area of improving community and industry practices that maintain the integrity of the environment in order to improve human health, e.g. waste management.

  • Environmental Health Workers are trained to meet the needs of Indigenous Communities. Programs to train these workers have been established in Queensland.

The Australian Institute Of Environmental Health– What Is It's Purpose

The Australian Institute of Environmental Health is a professional body represented by a state council. An Executive Officer is employed to facilitate a variety of activities that enhance the status of Environmental Health Professionals and the environmental health of the community.

Membership of the Institute is recognized throughout the world by employers of Environmental Health professionals. Through the International Federation of Environmental Health, the Australian Institute of Environmental Health is affiliated with some 50 countries.

The Institute aims to improve Environmental Health practice through:

  • Providing professional development for Environmental Health Practitioners.

  • Advocating for environmental and public health policy and legislation through its involvement in such initiatives as the National Environmental Health Strategy.

  • Liasing and creating partnerships with industry to monitor best practice in a number of environmental health areas.

  • Creating and being involved in partnerships and alliances with other health and environment agencies to determine strategies to improve environmental health.

  • Informing the community about environmental health risks.

Services And Activities Of The Australian Institute Of Environmental Health

The Australian Institute of Environmental Health is responsible for the following activities:

  • Advising and monitoring governments on relevant legislation and its administration

  • Representation on professional and technical committees

  • Special Interest Groups – The aim of these groups is to allow an exchange of information in areas of special interest to members. The expertise these groups represent is used to advise governments on legislation and policy development.

  • Regional Group Meetings and Conferences – Within Queensland, there are five regional groups that hold professional development days and weekdays giving members the opportunity to meet informally to gain knowledge and skills. Members are encouraged to present papers on their areas of expertise at these meetings.

  • Continuing Professional Development (CPD) – The Institute has a responsibility to ensure that each of its members maintains a proper level of competence and professionalism in their service to the community. Training, workshops, seminars and conferences are provided in order to maintain professionalism.

  • The Queensland Environmental Health is a bi – monthly newsletter provided free of charge to members. The newsletter is an informative forum to exchange ideas and information that enhances the role of those working in Environmental Health. Members also receive the Institute’s national journal Environmental Health Review Australia.

  • The Institute organizes national and state conferences that provide forums for formal and informal networking with other health professionals involved in Environmental Health. Members are encouraged to present papers in their area of expertise. Proceedings from state conferences are distributed to all members.


A Hidden Risk

All bivalve mollusc's (shell fish) including oysters, feed by taking in water and filtering out minute food particles, which can include harmful bacteria, viruses and other contaminants.

As it is common practice to eat oysters raw, eating wild oysters can pose a serious health risk to humans because contamination often cannot be seen.

Commercial oyster culture is managed under strict environmental guidelines designed to ensure that oysters are only grown in areas with appropriate water quality. As a secondary safeguard, harvesting is prohibited if there is any evidence of temporary contamination in the oyster growing area. Post – harvest processing is conducted under hygienic conditions to ensure that a safe product is provided for sale.

It is advisable to avoid the collection and eating of wild oysters from waterways, which may be contaminated by industrial and/or domestic wastes. Contamination may occur through storm water discharges, boating activities and runoff from parks, footpaths, factories and private gardens.

Waterways with limited tidal flushing are of particular risk as contaminants may accumulate and become concentrated in the wild oysters.

Given that there is always a risk when someone eats raw food without adequate safeguards, commercial oysters harvested from a licensed area are recommended.


Because most oysters are eaten raw, people can become ill from consuming contaminated oyster meat, Oyster lovers need to be aware of how to reduce the risk of eating oysters. So when ordering a dozen oysters make sure they have been farmed and not illegally harvested from the wild.


Wild Oysters

Oysters growing wild among rocks, on jetty posts and retaining walls should not be eaten. The water in which they were grown may not always be clean.


You may also find oysters growing wild in man – made canals and waterways, where stormwater, sewage and agriculture waste runs into the sea and where humans pollute the water by dumping rubbish, some of which can be poisonous (toxic).

If the growing water is polluted, there is a good chance that the oyster meat may become unsafe to eat. Don’t take the risk, leave wild oysters where you find them.

A further risk is the harmful germs that live in the meat of the oyster. These harmful bacteria and viruses hitch a ride in the oyster growing water. They then make their home in the meat.

Storing Oysters

Oyster farmers and processors, store their live (unopened) rock oysters around 15 deg.C and there live pacific oysters around 5 deg.C.

Once oysters are no longer alive they should be stored as close to 5 deg.C as possible. This includes those being stored in the home refrigerator. Open oysters laid out on trays must be kept covered at all times. Oysters in bottles are better protected.

Any oysters sold for home eating should be eaten as soon as possible. If not, provided they receive the right protection in the refrigerator, they should be consumed within two days (open) or four days (bottled)

Eating Oysters

Many oyster lovers eat their oysters raw so they should always be careful how the meat looks, smells and tastes. Look for very tiny shell pieces, which can easily be caught in the throat or in a tooth filling.

Make sure you are happy with the colour of the meat and check that they smell and taste like they did the last time you ate them.

For those who are eating oysters for the first time, only eat them if you are happy with their look, smell and taste. If you think something is not right then do not eat them.

Cooking oysters before you eat them will reduce the risk of eating any that are unsafe, but make sure you cook them properly. Do not leave them half raw.

Farmed Oysters

Oysters which are grown by oyster farmers and sold to retailers like fish shops, restaurants and oyster bars have a long history of presenting minimal risk to the consumer.

These growers are licensed by the State Government to produce oysters in set locations. Such areas, which are usually the clean inshore waters of our coastline, are closely monitored.

Both the State Government and oyster growers carefully watch for any problems like water pollution that occur during oyster growth. Any problems, which cause the oysters to become unsafe to eat, are resolved before the grower harvests them for eating.


  • Avoid collecting and eating of wild oysters from waterways, which may be
  • Always choose farm grown oysters as they are grown in a pollutant free
  • Never eat oysters which have been grown in water which could be polluted
  • Eating properly cooked oysters helps to reduce the chance of illness
  • When eating oysters make sure you are happy with the way they look,
    smell and taste
  • Store live rock oysters around 15 deg.C and live pacific oysters around 5 deg.C
  • Store all shucked (open) oysters below 5 deg.C and always keep them covered.
  • Ensure oysters stored in the home refrigerator are eaten within two days (open) or four days (bottled).


What Is Scabies

Scabies is a skin infestation with a mite called Sarcoptes scabiei. These mites burrow into the skin where they live and reproduce.

How Do You Get Scabies?

  • Scabies is passed from person to person by close direct contact.

  • It can be spread by sexual contact and by non-sexual contact in families and institutions such as schools.

  • Scabies is less commonly passed on through clothes and bed linen.

  • Away from human body mites die within 72 hours

How Would You Know If You Had Scabies?

  • The skin infestation commonly involves the genital areas, buttocks, lower abdomen, wrists, forearms and webs between the fingers.

  • It takes between three and six weeks after the first infestation with scabies for symptoms to appear.

  • Mite droppings in the skin cause an itchy reaction, which may be severe. The itch is often worse at night and after a hot shower or exercise.

  • There may be raised red lumps. Scratching can remove the tops of these lumps causing open sores.

How Can You Be Treated For Scabies?

  • There are several treatments available, usually requiring an application of a cream or lotion which is repeated after seven days. Ask your doctor to recommend an appropriate treatment. The instructions need to be followed carefully.

  • Other household members and sexual contacts should be treated at the same time.

  • Mites can live for a day on clothing and bed linen, so these should be washed on a hot cycle on the day of treatment.

  • It is common for the itch to persist for several weeks after treatment.

How Do You Avoid Getting Scabies?

  • Use of condoms does not prevent scabies being passed from one person to another during sexual activity.

  • Any person with itchy lumps or sores in the genital area should not have sex or close contact with another person, but should see their doctor for advice.

Pubic Lice(Crabs)

What Are Pubic Lice?

  • Pubic lice are grey/brown mites shaped like tiny crabs.

  • They live in hair of the pubic area, body and armpits and may also live in strong hair of the face such as beards and eyelashes.

  • The female lays eggs (nits) which attach to hair and clothing. The eggs hatch in 6 – 10 days.

  • Lice can live up to 4 weeks on the human body, but die within 24 hours away from the human body on clothes, bedding etc.

How Do You Get Pubic Lice?

  • Pubic lice are spread by direct person-to-person contact, usually by sexual contact. They may also be spread through sharing of clothing or bed linen.

How Common Are Pubic Lice?

  • Pubic Lice are common among young sexually active adults.

  • There are often other types of lice, head lice are the most common type of lice, especially in children.

How Would You Know If You Had Pubic Lice?

  • You may see the lice among the hairs or you may see the eggs stuck to the hairs.

  • Lice may be present without causing any symptoms. Itch is the most common complaint.

How Can You Be Treated For Pubic Lice?

  • There are several treatments available, ask your doctor to recommend an appropriate treatment. The instructions need to be followed carefully.

  • Other household members and sexual contacts should be treated at the same time.

  • Clothing and bed linen should be treated on the same day.

  • Combing the hair with a fine-toothed comb will help remove the eggs.

How Do You Avoid Getting Pubic Lice?

  • Condoms do not cover the pubic area so they do not prevent the spread of pubic lice.

  • Partners with any signs of lice or eggs should be treated before any close body contact.


What Is Hepatitis

The term “hepatitis” means inflammation (a condition which typically includes heat, swelling, redness and pain) of the liver. This condition causes damage to liver cells, Hepatitis can be caused by several things: chemicals, hazardous alcohol consumption, drugs or viral infections.

Hepatitis is usually a result of infection from one or more of three different types of viruses known as hepatitis a, hepatitis b, and hepatitis c. Other types of hepatitis virus (d through to g) have been identified but it is thought that these are relatively uncommon and there is limited information about them.

The three most common viruses, hepatitis a,b and c can cause similar symptoms but their prevention and treatment differ because the viruses are different and can be transmitted in different ways.

Some people experience no symptoms at all, however early signs of infection can include:

  • General aches and pains

  • Fever

  • Sweats

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Lack of appetite, leading to weight loss

  • Pain in the abdomen 3 to 10 days later, signs might include:

  • Yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice)

  • Urine may become dark in colour

  • Faeces can become pale – coloured

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A virus is passed from person to person through the “faecal-oral” route. This means that the faeces of an infected person contain the virus.

The virus can be spread through:

  • Food or drink prepared by an infected person

  • Using eating utensils that have been handled by an infected person

  • Sharing a cigarette or smoking equipment (such as bongs) with an infected person.

  • Poor hygiene

  • Handling nappies

  • Oral and anal sex

Hepatitis A occurs in people of all ages. The real number of hepatitis A infections is more than the number of infections reported, because many people do not get sick, so do not go to the doctor to have a blood test.

Hepatitis A can be detected through a blood test and a vaccination is available. Most people who become infected with hepatitis A recover completely. People who have had hepatitis A in the past will have antibodies in their system that will protect them from being infected again.

People with hepatitis A can pass the infection on to other people. To avoid transmission:

  • Avoid sharing cigarettes, smoking implements, toothbrushes, food or drinks with other people.

  • Avoid sexual contact.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B can enter the body in many ways such as :

  • Contact with body fluids through sexual contact vaginal, oral and anal sex

  • Direct contact with infected blood and blood products

  • Sharing needles and injecting equipment

  • Sharing items like toothbrushes or razor blades

  • Infants can contract hepatitis B at birth, from mothers who are carriers

It is not spread by casual contact such as sneezing or coughing, holding or shaking hands, kissing on the cheek or dry lip kissing, eating food prepared by a carrier.

It can take up to six months after contact with hepatitis B for the infection to develop. This time is called the incubation period. Hepatitis B can be passed on to other people for several weeks before symptoms or signs of infection develop, as well as when symptoms occur.

Blood tests can be taken to check for hepatitis B. Blood tests show if a person has had hepatitis B in the past, has an acute infection, is a carrier, or has a chronic infection. Tests of the liver can also show if there is any damage to the liver. There are treatments available for chronic hepatitis B.

There is a reliable and safe vaccine available to prevent the spread of hepatitis B are encouraged to undergo vaccination.

Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is spread by blood from an infected person entering the bloodstream of another person including by:

  • Re-using or sharing needles and injecting equipment

  • Having received a transfusion with infected blood before February 1990

  • Sharing razors, toothbrushes, tattooing or piercing equipment

Sexual activity is not considered high risk, though safe sex is recommended, and sex aids should be cleaned after each partner. Women with hepatitis C have a low risk (1 in 20) of passing the virus to their baby before or during birth.

Hepatitis C is not transmitted through kissing, sneezing, mosquitoes, coughing, hugging or other social contact, sharing food or drinks, sharing eating or cooking utensils, toilet or shower facilities.

You can only tell you have hepatitis C (HCV) by having and HCV antibody test. When a person is first infected with hepatitis C they have what is known as an acute infection. During this time they are most infectious. About 25% of people will then clear the virus within two to six months and have no long-term consequences.

Chronic hepatitis C infection causes progressive fibrosis (scarring) of the liver. In 20% of cases this can lead to cirrhosis of the liver. In 20% of cases this can lead to cirrhosis of the liver over 20-30 years or more, although it can occur more rapidly. Cirrhosis increases the risk of liver failure and liver cancer.

Listeria And Food

What is Listeria?

Listeria is bacteria that can cause a serious illness called listeriosis in some people. While Listeria infection is uncommon and causes few or no symptoms in healthy people, it can be very dangerous for those people at risk.

Listeriosis is usually caused by eating food contaminated by certain types of Listeria bacteria. The Listeria bacteria are found widely in nature. Storing contaminated foods, even in the refrigerator, may allow the Listeria bacteria to grow.

The bacteria may be present in raw foods or may contaminate food after it has been cooked or processed.

Who Is At Risk?

People at higher risk of listeriosis include:

  • Pregnant women, their unborn and newborn children;

  • Older people (generally considered to be persons over 65 – 70 years)

  • People of all ages whose immune systems have been weakened by disease or illness, for example cancer, leukemia, AIDS, diabetes, liver or kidney diseases, and

  • Anyone on medication that can suppress the immune system, for example, prednisone or cortisone, including organ transplant patients.

If you have any concerns about whether you are at risk please consult your medical practitioner.

What Are The Symptoms?

In persons at risk, symptoms may include fever, headache, tiredness, aches and pains, Less common symptoms are diarrhoea, nausea and abdominal cramps. Symptoms may progress to more serious forms of the illness, such as meningitis and septicaerria.

Symptoms in pregnant women may be mild, but listeriosis can result in miscarriage, premature birth or, in rare cases, stillbirth.

If you have any concerns about symptoms or illness please consult your medical practitioner.

What Precautions Should I Take If I Am At Risk?

The food industry and governments work together to ensure our food is safe. However, if you or anyone in your household is in the at risk group, it is important you reduce your risk by taking a few simple precautions. These include:

  • Preparing, storing and handling food hygienically;

  • Avoiding certain foods which have a higher risk of Listeria contamination and

  • Being careful about food prepared by others.

Eat freshly cooked or freshly prepared foods

Ideally, eat only freshly cooked food and well washed freshly prepared fruit and vegetables. However, leftovers can be eaten if they are refrigerated promptly and kept no longer than a day. It’s important that you do not eat food if there is any doubt about its hygienic preparation or storage.

Cook Food Thoroughly

Thorough cooking of food kills Listeria bacteria. Ensure food is cooked thoroughly.

Reheat Foods To Steaming Hot

If you plan to eat previously cooked and refrigerated leftovers, only keep them in the refrigerator for a day and reheat them thoroughly to steaming hot. This will kill Listeria bacteria.

When reheating food, especially in a microwave, make sure the food is steaming hot throughout.

Make Safer Food Choices

As a general rule, avoid perishable foods (need to be refrigerated) that have been prepared well in advance and are to be eaten without further cooking.

The tables list some examples of higher risk foods and safer alternatives. You should avoid consuming these higher risk foods, especially if you are unsure about how they have been prepared, stored and handled. Food is safe if you cook it or reheat it to steaming hot throughout and serve it hot.

Avoid ready to eat food from salad bars, sandwich bars, delicatessens and smorgasbords

Ready to eat foods from salad bars may have been prepared and refrigerated some time before they are put on display. Listeria bacteria may have grown in these foods so they are best avoided.

Foods on open display in delicatessen counters are more likely to become contaminated by Listeria than foods that are sold packaged by the manufacturer. Avoid these foods.

Avoid foods that are past their “best before” or “use by” date.

Choose and consume foods well within their “use by” or “best before” date. Once opened, eat promptly.

Do not eat refrigerated foods that are past their “use by” or “best before” date.

Only buy ready to eat hot food if it’s steaming hot

If you buy ready to eat hot food, for example a cooked chicken, make sure its very hot and either eat it or refrigerate it promptly on arriving home. Use it within a day.

If eating out, order hot meals

Choose menu items that are cooked to order and served hot. Do not eat food that is served lukewarm. It is best to avoid smorgasbords and salad bars. If this isn't’t possible, choose the hot foods only.

Good Food Hygiene

Take some simple food hygiene steps to reduce the risk of food borne disease.

  • Thoroughly wash and dry your hands before preparing food, particularly before preparing ready to eat food.

  • Keep your refrigerator clean and operate it below 5 o C.

  • Wash knives, cutting boards and kitchen appliances and dry thoroughly after handling raw food to prevent contamination of cooked and ready to eat foods.

  • Thoroughly wash and dry raw fruit and vegetables before eating or juicing

  • Thaw ready to eat frozen food in the refrigerator or microwave – don ‘t thaw at room temperature

  • Thoroughly cook all raw meat, chicken and fish

  • Don’t leave foods to cool on the bench or stove top. Put them in the refrigerator after the steam has gone

  • If you are keeping food hot, keep it very hot (60 o C or hotter). Keep cold food cold (5 oC or colder).

  • Thoroughly reheat food until it is steaming hot

  • Keep stored foods covered

  • Store raw meat separately from cooked and ready to eat food in the refrigerator. Store it below other foods so that there is no chance it will drip onto other foods.

Making Safer Food Choices

Listeria is managed by hygenic preparation, storage and handling of food. Avoid consuming higher risk foods, especially if you are unsure that hygenic practices have been followed. These tables list some examples of higher risk foods and safer alternatives.


Cold Meats

Unpackaged ready to eat from delicatessen counters, sandwich bars, etc
Packaged, sliced ready to eat.

Cold Cooked Chicken

Purchased (whole, portions, or diced) ready to eat.


Refrigerate pate or meat spreads

Salads (Fruit And Vegetables)

Prepared or Prepackaged salads, e.g. from salad bars, smorgasbords, etc

Chilled Seafood

Raw (e.g. oysters, sashimi or sushi)
Smoked ready to eat
Ready to eat peeled prawns (cooked) e.g. In prawn cocktails, sandwich fillings, and prawn salads


Soft, semi soft and surface ripened cheeses (pre packaged and delicatessen) e.g. brie, camembert, ricotta, feta and blue

Ice Cream

Soft serve

Other Dairy Products

Unpasteurised dairy products (e.g. raw goats milk)

Safer Alternatives


Cold Meats

Home Cooked

Store in fridge and use within a day of cooking


Home Cooked
Hot Takeaway Chicken (Whole, Portions)

Ensure chicken is cooked thoroughly, use immediately - store any leftovers in fridge and use within a day of cooking.
Use immediately or store any leftovers in fridge and use within a day of purchase.


Freshly prepared salads - home made

Wash all vegetables and fruit thoroughly. Store any leftover prepared salads in fridge, use within a day of preparation.


Hard cheese (e.g. chedder, tasty)
Processed cheese, cheese spreads, plain cream cheese, plain cottage cheese

Store in fridge
Purchase cheeses packaged by the manufacturer. Store in the fridge.

Other Dairy Products

Pasteurized dairy products
(e.g. pasteurized milk, yogurt, custard, dairy dessert)
Packaged frozen ice cream

Store in fridge
Maintain the ice cream frozen

Canned and similarly packaged foods


Store unused portions in clean, sealed containers and use within a day


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