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Food Safety and Doggy Bags

More than four million Australians contract food poisoning each year, despite the safety of the nationís food supplies.

By Latrobe City Council - 22nd November 2000 - Back to News

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Food safety researchers have indicated that more than four million Australians contract food poisoning each year, despite the safety of the nationís food supplies being near the best in the world.

Each day, an average of 11,500 people are affected by food bought at takeaways, hotels, and restaurants. It is estimated that 60-80 per cent of all food borne illness is contracted outside the home due to a general increase of people spending 30 per cent of their food budget on eating out away from home.

Latrobe City Council Health Services Leader, Mr Andrew Mackintosh said most cases of food poisoning are the result of mishandled food either kept at the wrong temperature, cross contamination or incorrectly heated. Mr Mackintosh said the most common sources of food borne bacteria include raw meat, raw poultry and fish, unwashed fruits and vegetables, people and dirt. "Unfortunately dangerous micro-organisms and the toxins some of them produce are invisible and do not affect the taste or appearance of the food," said Mr Mackintosh.

"The term 'doggy bag' developed when food left uneaten at a restaurant was taken home for the family pet. Today, many customers will consume that food themselves, but at a later time. Most customers would be unaware that the safety of uneaten food taken away has been compromised and should they suffer from a food borne illness, they may hold the restaurateur liable," said Mr Mackintosh.

The food purchased by a customer at a restaurant becomes the property of that customer. It may be seen as poor customer service if a restaurateur bans doggy bags. However the tide of current thinking must be turned around if serious health risks are to be prevented.

"In the interests of public health, the practice of taking away uneaten food from a restaurant in doggy bags for human consumption should be discouraged," said Mr Mackintosh.

"Food from doggy bags can be exposed to a number of hazards such as temperature abuse, contamination with other food borne pathogens and cross contamination between cooked and uncooked foods," Mr Mackintosh added.

Media Enquiries:

Cr. Tony Hanning, Mayor, Latrobe City
tel. 0417 373 577

Cr. Brendan Jenkins, Deputy Mayor, Latrobe City
tel. 0417 374 590

Ms. Penny Holloway, Chief Executive Officer,
tel. 5173 1401 or 0417 557 103

Jeremy Bein, Public Relations and Communications Officer,
tel. 5173 1468


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