Food Safety

The Town of Bassendean Health Services works closely with local businesses and community groups who prepare food for sale, to ensure the production of safe food and compliance with WA’s food legislation.   Health Services conduct:

  • Inspections of food businesses;
  • Inspections of food vans and stalls at events and markets;
  • Chemical food sampling including assessment of nutritional information panels;
  • Microbiological (bacterial) food sampling of ready to eat foods;
  • Education including the “Food Matters in Bassendean” Newsletter and the I’m ALERT food handler training program
  • Investigation of food complaints, recalls and food poisoning notifications;
  • Assessment of applications for temporary food businesses such as vans and market stalls.

The Food Safety Information Council aims to address this issue by providing simple, easy to follow information on the handling, storage and preparation of food.

I'm ALERT - Free Food Safety Training for Businesses

When preparing food for sale to the public you must practice good food hygiene and ensure compliance with all relevant legislation.  The Town of Bassendean provides free online food safety training for food handlers.  I’m ALERT is an easy to use online interactive program which helps food handlers develop the necessary skills and knowledge to ensure food is handled in a safe and hygienic manner. 

I’m ALERT also includes an entertaining presentation and interactive quizzes.  Once the quizzes and the

training are completed, an Acknowledgment Form / Certificate can be printed and retained for your staff records.   You can access I’m ALERT here.

Food Safety Programs

Food businesses involved in food service where potentially hazardous food is served to vulnerable populations are required to have a Food Safety Program.  This Program must meet the requirements of Chapter 3 of the Food Standards Code.

A Food Safety Program is a written document indicating how a food business will control the food safety hazards associated with the food handling activities of the business.  In general, the food business must:

  1. Carefully examine all its food handling operations to identify any potential hazards
  2. If one or more hazards are identified, develop a food safety program to control the hazard or hazards
  3. Have the food safety program as a written document, retained on the premises
  4. Comply with the Program
  5. Conduct a review of the Program at least annually to make sure it’s adequate

The content of a Food Safety Program must have the following documented:

  • The food handling operations of the business (from delivery to cooking to serving)
  • Potential food safety hazards (e.g. biological, chemical, or physical agents)
  • Control measures (e.g. refrigeration, pest control,)
  • Corrective actions
  • The review of the program
  • Record keeping.

A food business which is required to have a Food Safety Program must ensure that the program is audited by an approved Food Safety Auditor at the auditing frequency determined by the Town’s Health Services.

Food Poisoning

Food poisoning is any illness caused by eating foods contaminated with pathogenic bacteria, parasites, viruses or toxins. Foods can become contaminated in a number of ways:

  1. People – through poor personal hygiene e.g. handwashing.
  2. Pets and pests – avoid having pets near food and food preparation surfaces, and keep doors and windows screened to prevent insects entering the premises.
  3. Cross contamination – when raw meats and ready to eat foods come into contact with each other e.g. chopping vegetables on a chopping board, which was just used to dice chicken.
  4. Undercooked foods – this could result from either insufficient cooking time, or cooking a frozen or partially frozen product and not achieving the correct internal temperature.
  5. Soil and dirt – soil / dirt / manures may remain on vegetables and herbs and on the shell of an egg.

What are the Symptoms?

Symptoms of food poisoning will vary, depending on the type of food poisoning, as well as the age of the patient.  In general, food poisoning symptoms may appear 12 to 72 hours (incubation perios) after eating the contaminated food.  People with food poisoning may experience some or all of the following:

  • Nausea (feeling sick)
  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach cramps /pains
  • Sweating / fever or chills
  • Headaches
  • Lethargy (extreme tiredness

It is important to note that food poisoning is not the same as Viral Gastroenteritis – even though they have similar symptoms.  Gastro infection can occur by coming in contact with a person who has gastro (person to person) or by coming in contact with a surface contaminated by the gastro e.g. Norovirus.

How do you know if you have food poisoning?

Diagnosis must be made by a medical professional.  See your doctor or go to hospital if you suspect you have food poisoning.  It is particularly important for the elderly or young children to have immediate medical attention.

How can I prevent infection?

Below are a number of food safety tips that will assist in reducing the risk of food poisoning. 

Handling Food

Bacteria cannot move on their own – they are spread from one place to another by poor food handling practices or by contact with pets, flies or other pests.  To stop the spread of bacteria:

  • Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water
    • before handling food, especially cooked food
    • after going to the toilet
    • between handling raw and cooked foods
  • Avoid using bare hands to touch food. Use tongs, forks and spoons whenever possible.
  • Always clean and sanitise work surfaces and utensils. Sanitisers kill bacteria, while detergents only remove dirt and grease.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables, especially if eaten raw.
  • Use safe, treated water when preparing food and cleaning.
  • Use separate cutting boards and knives for each type of food eg. raw meat, fish, vegetables and cooked foods.
  • Use paper towels whenever possible. Dishcloths and towels can carry bacteria.
  • Protect food preparation areas and food from pests, insects and pets.

Buying food / grocery shopping

  • avoid buying damaged cans and torn packets.
  • Always check that the product is within the used-by-date.
  • Do not keep perishable foods (meat, dairy etc) out of refrigeration for longer than 2 hours. Buy these products last and put them in your fridge / freezer as soon as possible.
  • Avoid buying perishable foods that have been stored out of refrigeration or above the ‘load level’ at the store. The load level is the level to which foods may be stored in freezers and remain at the correct temperature, and is usually about 5 cm below the rim of the cabinet.

Storing Food

  • Keep food covered to protect it from dust, insects, sneezes, etc.
  • Keep raw food eg. chicken, separate from cooked food. Always wrap and store cooked foods above raw foods in the fridge.
  • Keep perishable foods hot (above 60 °C) or cold (below 5 °C). Check the temperature of your fridge regularly – in hot weather it may need adjusting to keep food cold.
  • Arrange food in your fridge so cold air can easily circulate around it. Never overstock your fridge.

Time and Temperature Control

  • Bacteria grow easily on high-risk foods such as meat, chicken, seafood and dairy products. Bacteria grow best at temperatures between 5 °C and 60 °C. This temperature range is known as the ‘temperature danger zone’.  These high risk foods should never be stored in the ‘temperature danger zone’.
  • Always defrost frozen food in the fridge or in a microwave oven set on ‘defrost’. Defrosting food on the bench top can be unsafe, and increase bacteria growth in foods as they defrost.
  • Make sure food is cooked thoroughly. Joints of meat and poultry should reach at least 75 °C in their centre – this will kill most harmful bacteria. Make sure meat and poultry juices are clear, not pink.
  • Cook and serve food immediately – never leave high-risk food out at room temperature.
  • Refrigerate promptly all cooked and perishable food at or below 5° C. Portion food before cooling, for example slice meats and cut large poultry into smaller portions. Place liquid foods such as casseroles in shallow containers (no more than 5cm deep) to allow for rapid cooling and place in the fridge as soon as it stops steaming.
  • If reheating food make sure it is reheated until steaming hot.
  • Do not store food too long, even in the fridge. Keep for a maximum of 3 days.

Types of Food Poisoning

Common types of food poisoning include Campylobacter, Salmonella, Listeria, Botulism, Giardia and Norovirus.  You can find out more about each virus by clicking here.