Summer heat increases risk of food poisoning: Tips to stay safe

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25th July 2023 – (Hong Kong) As temperatures rise, so do concerns about food safety. Recently, a user on the Lihkg.com forum expressed concerns about the impact of hot weather on restaurant food, pointing out that several friends had suffered from food poisoning. Other users chimed in, sharing their own experiences of gastrointestinal distress. Some even suggested that the heat causes meat to spoil more quickly.

The Hong Kong Centre for Food Safety warns that warm environments can encourage the rapid growth of bacteria, making summer a high-risk time for food poisoning. It’s important to be extra cautious about food safety during the summer months. Foods that are contaminated with harmful bacteria can quickly spoil and pose a health risk. Foods such as cooked rice, pre-cooked meats, and raw or undercooked seafood should not be left at room temperature for long periods.

It’s important to note that the presence of harmful bacteria may not always be detectable by smell or taste. Even if a food appears and smells fine, it may still contain harmful bacteria that can cause food poisoning. When in doubt, it’s best to err on the side of caution and throw the food out.

To minimize the risk of food poisoning, the Hong Kong Centre for Food Safety recommends keeping perishable foods at a temperature below 4 degrees Celsius or above 60 degrees Celsius. This is because most harmful bacteria thrive in temperatures between 4 and 60 degrees Celsius, also known as the “danger zone.” Cooked food that has been left at room temperature for more than two hours should be discarded.

If you’re cooking in advance, it’s important to store the food properly. Cooked food that will not be consumed immediately should be stored in the refrigerator at a temperature below 4 degrees Celsius. If the food has been left at room temperature for more than two hours but less than four hours, it can still be refrigerated and consumed within four hours. If it has been left at room temperature for more than four hours, it should be discarded.

It’s important to follow basic food safety practices when preparing and handling food, such as washing your hands frequently, using separate cutting boards for raw and cooked foods, and cooking meat to a safe temperature. The Hong Kong Centre for Food Safety recommends cooking meat to a temperature of at least 75 degrees Celsius.

In conclusion, the summer heat can increase the risk of food poisoning, but there are steps you can take to stay safe. By following basic food safety practices and being extra cautious with perishable foods, you can minimise the risk of food poisoning and enjoy a safe and healthy summer.