Sacrifice ... If you need to leave something out the fridge this Christmas, make it the beer.

Sacrifice ... If you need to leave something out the fridge this Christmas, make it the beer. Photo: Glen Hunt

No, not the beer!

Yes, as fridge space becomes a precious commodity on Christmas Day, the Australian Medical Association is urging us to sacrifice cold beer in the interests of keeping more important things cool.

Each year 5.4 million Australians suffer food poisoning and poor storage is one of the culprits.

Fridges tend to fill up at Christmas, making them less safe.

Fridges tend to fill up at Christmas, making them less safe.

AMA president Dr Steve Hambleton has urged families to handle and store food safely to stop food poisoning being an unwelcome Christmas present.

The key to avoiding food poisoning is to limit the time food stays in the ‘‘temperature danger zone’’ of 5OC to 60C.

“Hot food should be kept hot by keeping it on the stove top or in the oven turned down to just below 100C before serving, and cold food should be kept cold by keeping it in the fridge before consuming," he said.

“When the fridge contains a large amount of food it has to work overtime to cope. If the weather outside is hot the temperature inside can rise. Check your fridge thermometer to make sure it is operating below 5C.”

The AMA’s tips for keeping food safe this Christmas are:

  • If you run out of room in your fridge to store food:

  • take out the beer – lukewarm drinks can’t make you sick. Fill the laundry sink or insulated containers or buckets with ice to keep drinks cool;

  • put whole fruit and whole raw vegetables in the cupboard or a bowl; and/or

  • take jars of pickles, chutneys and bottled sauces that have vinegar on the label out of the fridge. They can survive for a couple of days without refrigeration.

To have a safe holiday this year, remember:

  • when preparing food, make sure that hands, clothes, equipment and kitchen surfaces are clean;

  • don’t use the same utensils for raw meats and cooked meats;

  • refrigerate leftovers immediately after the meal and use within three days;

  • cook poultry, minced meats, sausages and other prepared meats until they reach 75OC (steaks and other solid meats can be cooked according to preference); and

  • don’t leave perishable nibbles like dips and soft cheeses out in the temperature danger zone for too long – instead, divide them into small amounts and replenish when needed.