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Food Safety

With over 500 food premises in the City of Playford, we promote food safety and ensure all businesses comply with legislation by:

  • Conducting routine food-safety inspections
  • Food-safety auditing for aged care and childcare businesses
  • Investigation of food complaints and food-poisoning incidents
  • Providing information and education about safe food-handling practices
  • Assisting SA Health with food recalls and food-poisoning outbreaks

Food Safety - Be Prepared

Australian Food Safety Week
13-20 November, 2021

Food safety might be the last thing you think of during or after an emergency such as a bushfire, flood or extended power outage. But during Australian Food Safety Week, from November 13-20, we are encouraging our community to be prepared in case of emergency to ensure you can safely prepare and consume food safely during emergency situations.

Why is food safety in an emergency important?

Floods, fires and storms can leave you without electricity for your fridge, gas for cooking and water for cleaning which can compromise the safety of your food. This is as true for food businesses as it is for those preparing and consuming food in their own home.

Certain emergencies, such as a flood, can also expose your food to contaminants so it is important to be prepared so you can consume food safely.

The last thing anyone wants at the height of a disaster, is the added stress of a food-related illness.

What can I do to be prepared for a fire, flood or extended power outage?

Prepare an emergency pantry

  • Have food on hand that doesn’t need refrigeration or heating.
  • Foods with a long shelf life such as long life milk, bottled water and canned or dried goods are good to include as part of an emergency food supply.
  • Ensure you have things like ready-to-use formula for infants and food for pets as part of your list if necessary
  • See The Pantry List for essential items you can pre-stock in case of emergency

Equipment

  • Remember to keep a manual can opener handy
  • A meat and fridge thermometer is handy to check safe temperatures of your fridge and thing risker foods like poultry and sausages.
  • Have a BBQ with a good supply of heat beads or bottled gas available for cooking.
  • Have coolers available and ice bricks or gel packs ready frozen to keep food cold if the power will be out
What do I do with the food in my fridge when the power goes out?

When there is a power outage you need to take extra measures to reduce the risk of food-related illness. It is important to record the time the power went off because time and temperature are the most important measures to determine whether food might be unsafe.

Food in your fridge:

  • Will remain safe in your refrigerator for 2 hours
  • If it has been more than 4 hours, throw the food out
  • Don’t open the fridge door during the power cut, unless necessary.
  • If this is not possible, remove potentially hazardous food (for example dips, pâté, ham, prepared and cooked food) from the refrigerator and place in an cooler with frozen bricks or gel packs.
  • Salted butter, margarine and hard cheeses will remain safe at room temperature.
  • If the temperature of the food stored in an esky or refrigerator reaches more than 5°C for four hours or more it should be thrown out.

Food in your freezer

  • Do not open the freezer door unless necessary, as this will reduce the time the contents will remain frozen.
  • If the freezer door is kept shut, a full freezer can keep food chilled for up to 48 hours, while a half full freezer can be kept food chilled for 24 hours.
  • If your freezer reaches more than 5°C for up to 2 hours, use the food immediately, find alternative refrigeration at less than 5°C or refreeze the food.
  • Foods that have partly defrosted or defrosted but remain very cold (5°C or less) can be refrozen. While there will not be a food safety issue in refreezing defrosted foods, the quality of the food may be slighted deteriorated.
  • Food stored in a freezer for more than 4 hours at more than 5°C should be thrown out.
What do I do if the power goes out in the middle of cooking?
  • Throw out food that was being cooked when the power failed if cooking cannot be completed properly within 2 hours.
  • If food is already properly cooked, eat it within 2 hours or throw it out.
What risks do fire pose to food safety?

One of the dangers of a fire can be toxic fumes from burning materials, while chemicals used to fight the fire can also contain toxic materials, all of which can contaminate your food supplies and food preparation surfaces. The heat from a fire can also cause bacteria in food to multiply, which presents a food safety risk.

What should I do with my food if my home or business has been impacted by fire?

If your home or business has been impacted by fire:

  • throw out any food that has been near a fire, including food in cans and jars even if it appears okay
  • any raw food, or food in packaging such as cardboard, plastic wrap, screw-topped jars and bottles should also be thrown out
  • throw out food from a refrigerator as the refrigerator seal isn’t airtight, fumes can get inside
  • wash cooking utensils exposed to fire-fighting chemicals in soapy hot water, then sanitise in 1 tablespoon of chlorine bleach per 2 litres of water and rinse.
What risks does a flood pose to food and food safety?

Floodwater can be contaminated with sewage, agricultural and industrial waste, and other substances that can cause illness. There is a danger that any food, surfaces and cooking utensils that have come into contact with floodwater might be contaminated. Spills and sewage discharges can also contaminate water supplies and food gardens.

What should I do with my food if I’ve been impacted by a flood?
  • Throw out food that has come into contact with floodwater or has an unusual odour, colour or texture. Do not taste or cook it.
  • Check canned and unopened bottled food and throw out any cans that are dented, swollen or damaged. Some cans and bottled products might be salvageable. For cans that appear useable:
    • remove the label and thoroughly wash the outside of the can with drinking-quality water
    • sanitise the can in bleach (check the bleach container label for the concentration of bleach recommended) for 1 minute, then rinse in drinking-quality water
    • re-label the can with a waterproof pen
Flood water went through my kitchen. Is it safe to use it again for preparing and cooking meals?

You’ll need to make sure your cooking utensils and surfaces are safe to use again after a flood. Follow these steps:

  • Carefully check dishes, pots, pans, cutlery and kitchen equipment that might have been in contact with floodwater. Throw away damaged or cracked items, items made from porous material such as wood, plastic or rubber including wooden chopping boards as they cannot be adequately sanitised.
  • Sanitise silverware, metal utensils, pots, pans and kitchen equipment in pieces by boiling in water for 10 minutes. Sanitise dishes by immersing glass, porcelain, china and enamel-ware for 10 minutes in a disinfecting solution of 1 tablespoon of chlorine bleach per 2 litres of warm water. Then rinse.
  • Air dry items because towels might have been splashed with contaminated water.
  • Clean cupboards, counters and work surfaces with hot, soapy, drinking-quality water then rinse with a chlorine bleach solution before storing dishes or food.
  • Commercial and most domestic dishwashers are capable of sanitising all eating and cooking utensils as part of their normal cycle.
My local area has been flooded. Should I drink water from the tap or my tank?

In an emergency such as a flood or contamination event, tap water and private water supplies such as from tanks, wells and bores sometimes might unsafe to drink and use for cooking and cleaning. Monitor public announcements and those from the local water supplier to know if tap water is safe to use. Private water supplies should be tested before using again.

If I can use my tap or tank water, what should I do?
  • Use only bottled, boiled or treated water – in that order of preference – for drinking, cooking or preparing food, washing utensils and surfaces, brushing teeth, hand washing, making ice, and bathing
  • Only treat contaminated water if you can’t access drinking-quality water.
  • You can treat contaminated water by:
    • Filtering cloudy water through a clean cloth or allow it to settle, then pour off the clear water for boiling. Boil the water vigorously for 1 minute then leave it to cool and store in a clean, covered container. Boiling will ensure water safe from most types of harmful bugs but will not remove chemical contaminants
    • Treating it with chlorine or iodine tablets. This is only recommended if water can’t be boiled. Follow the directions that come with the tablets. This might not kill all bugs and will not remove any chemical contaminants.
    • Thoroughly clean any containers used to store water with hot soapy drinking-quality water, then rinse with a bleach solution before use.
A flood went through my backyard. Can I pick and eat the veggies from my garden?

Vegetable gardens can take a month to become suitable for harvest after flood or sewage discharge. Discard all leafy green produce or damaged vine or dropped tree fruits. After 1 month, wash other vegetables then sanitise in a weak bleach solution of 1 tablespoons bleach to 2 litres of water. Then rinse in drinking-quality water, peel and use. Monitor announcements and consult local authorities after other sorts of contamination.

I’ve been through a natural disaster and not sure if my food is safe. What do I do?

If in doubt, throw it out! Appearance or smell is not always a reliable indicator. Some foods may look and smell fine, but if they have been warm too long, they may contain enough bacteria to make people ill.

I want to learn more about food safety in general. What can I do?

You can learn more about food safety through Do Food Safely – a short, online food safety training platform that is available here.

You can learn about food safety in an emergency by clicking here.

The SA Health Website also has handy hints for food safety in an emergency.

Food Complaints

Our Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) investigate reports relating to food safety in businesses in Playford. Investigations are conducted in accordance with the South Australian Food Act 2001.

Reports can relate to any of the following:

  • Food poisoning
  • Food handling or food safety concerns
  • Foreign matter found in food (glass, plastic, hair, etc)

If you suspect you have experienced food poisoning from eating at a food business within the City of Playford, we suggest you seek medical attention immediately.

To submit a request to Council:

To report an issue or lodge a request for service:

Food Business Notification

All food business, including those that are home-based, must comply with Food Act 2001, Food Regulations 2017 and Food Safety Standards.

It is a requirement of the Food Act 2001 that all food businesses handling or selling food complete the notification forms prior to starting a business. Home-based businesses are also required to notify Council.

Food Safety Rating

We introduced a Food Safety Rating Scheme called 'Scores on Doors' for food businesses within the City of Playford. It’s our way of promoting food businesses and their level of compliance of safe food-handling practices, while helping you make informed decisions about where to eat.

The Scheme was developed by SA Health in partnership with State and Local Government. Visit the Food Safety Rating Scheme for more information.

Food Business Inspections

City of Playford’s Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) conduct routine inspections on the following businesses:

  • Commercial food businesses
  • Home based food businesses
  • Temporary or mobile food businesses
  • Businesses that prepare food for vulnerable people (hospitals, child care facilities, aged care facilities etc)
  • Events, markets, charities and community BBQs
How frequently are inspections conducted?

The frequency of inspections is dependent upon your food business classification under the South Australian Food Business Risk Classification, and:

  • the level of risk associated with the foods prepared by the business
  • compliance history
  • food safety skills and knowledge of staff and proprietors
Will I be charged for an inspection?

All food businesses are charged a fee for food inspections as prescribed in the South Australia Food Regulations 2017 in-line with City of Playford’s Food Inspection Fee Policy. Fee exceptions are given for not-for-profit or charitable organisations.

Food Safety Training

Safe drinking water

For businesses that supply non-mains drinking water to the public, they must:

  • Adhere to the Safe Drinking Water Act 2011
  • Register with SA Health to be a water supplier
  • Develop and implement a risk management plan

NB: The Act does not apply to domestic use of rainwater tanks or other private supplies.

To access the registration form and standard risk management plans on safe drinking water supplies, please visit SA Health.