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Restaurants, cafes and takeaway food outlets have a responsibility to serve food that is safe to eat. However, there are some basic measures you can take that will minimise the risk of food poisoning when eating out.
What type of food can make you sick?
Many different types of food can make you sick. Food that contains dangerous bacteria or viruses may not look, smell or taste any different from food that is safe. Food poisoning bacteria are either in the food to begin with or are transferred to the food during storage, cooking, preparing or serving.
High risk foods
Food poisoning bacteria can grow and multiply on some types of food more easily than others. These high risk foods include:
When eating out, pay special attention to how these high risk foods are prepared, cooked, stored and served.
Choosing where to eat
When you decide to eat in a restaurant or to buy takeaway food, consider these questions:
Dirty conditions in the public areas of a shop or restaurant can be a clue that things may be worse in the kitchen or behind the scenes where customers don’t go.
Hints for buying food
When buying food, remember:
What to look for at buffets or self-service restaurants
Taking food home
When you have takeaway food, either eat it within a few hours or take it home and put it in the fridge immediately – make sure that it is eaten within a couple of days. Throw out any high risk food that has been left in the temperature danger zone of between 5°C and 60°C for more than four hours.
Doggy bags are not the same as normal takeaway foods. Takeaway food is intended to be eaten away from the premises, and is served by the food business at the appropriate temperature and in suitable takeaway containers.
The term ‘doggy bag’ developed when food left uneaten at a restaurant was taken home for the family pet. However, many customers take doggy bags home and consume that food themselves later.
Uneaten food taken from a restaurant or cafe in a doggy bag may be unsafe for human consumption. Food for doggy bags can be exposed to a number of hazards:
There are no laws that prevent restaurants and cafes from giving customers doggy bags.
Where to get help
Things to remember