Food safety tips for Christmas

Saturday, 15. June 2019

As Australians dish up Christmas feasts, health authorities are urging the public to follow basic food safety tips to avoid food poisoning.

Large outdoor gatherings on hot days are the perfect breeding opportunity for harmful bacteria such as salmonella and listeria in food, the NSW Food Authority warned.

More than 5.4 million Australians suffer from food poisoning each year, and experts usually see a spike in the warmer months.

“Symptoms can be quite nasty ranging from nausea, stomach cramps, diarrhoea, fever and headaches to serious vomiting and dehydration requiring hospitalisation,” said the president of the Australians Medical Association, Steve Hambleton.

“Christmas is a time for relaxing with family, not queuing in hospital emergency departments because of food poisoning.”

Hosts can avoid poisoning themselves and their guests by minimising the amount of time food stays in the temperature “danger zone” of between five and 60 degrees, Hambleton said. Hot food should be kept hot by being placed on a stove top or in an oven, and cold food kept in the fridge or eskies filled with ice.

He reminded the public to check the temperature of their fridges which could dramatically fluctuate with increased amounts of food. “Make sure it is operating below five degree.”

An earlier survey by the NSW Food Authority found some household fridges became twice as warm after more food was stacked inside, and took on average four hours to return to the ideal temperature.

The Australian Food Safety Information Council said food could easily be contaminated during transportation. The council’s chairman, Dr Michael Eyles, encouraged hosts to ask guests expecting to travel for more than an hour to bring low-risk foods such as cakes, biscuits and Christmas puddings.

“If they like to cook they can always come earlier and help you in your kitchen,” he said. “Those that live less than an hour away could bring hot food in an insulated bag but make sure it is reheated to 75C before serving. They could also bring refrigerated items like salads and desserts.”

Leftover food should be immediately refrigerated and consumed with two to three days. Hot or cold food left in the temperature “danger zone” for more than four hours should be trashed.

Each year, food poisoning results in 120 deaths, 1.2 million visits to doctors, 300,000 prescriptions for antibiotics and 2.1 million days of lost labour, on average, the council said.

The NSW Food Authority’s food safety guide for summer eating: can be found here.


-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 75C (steaks and other solid meats can be cooked according to preference)

-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.


-Take out the beer. Lukewarm drinks can’t make you sick. Fill the laundry sink or insulate containers or buckets with ice to keep drinks cool.

-Store whole fruit and whole raw vegetables in the cupboard or a bowl.

-Temporarily remove jars of pickles, chutneys and bottled sauces that contain vinegar. They can survive for a couple of days without refrigeration

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Reverend Bill Crews urges Barry O’Farrell to adopt ‘Newcastle solution’

Saturday, 15. June 2019

Call for action: Reverend Bill Crews. Photo: Anthony Johnson NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell: urged to adopt the ‘Newcastle solution’. Photo: Steven Siewert

It will be 50 years next month since Reverend Bill Crews answered a knock on the door of his Sydney home and was given the shattering news that his younger brother was dead.

Robert “Bob” Crews had been driving down a country road in northern NSW in January 1964 when, confronted with two oncoming cars, he crashed off the road into a ditch.

Reverend Crews, a Uniting Church Minister and founder of the Exodus Foundation, said the youths were drunk, and racing two vehicles towards his brother, leaving no room for his vehicle to pass.

“There’s not a day we don’t think of him. It took 30 years before my father could put my brother’s photograph up on the wall,” Reverend Crews said.

“Now, when I look at the families of the kids who have been king hit, or who are the victims of alcohol-fuelled violence, I see my father all over again. And I think it’s got to stop.”

Fed up with the scourge of alcohol-fuelled violence exploding on Sydney’s streets each weekend, he has penned an open letter to NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell demanding that a state-wide trial of the so-called “Newcastle solution” be instituted.

The Newcastle solution consists of 1am lockouts and a ban on the sale of shots after 10pm, and has led to a steep reduction in violent assaults in Newcastle.

Reverend Crews said he had known Mr O’Farrell for many years, and loved him “like a brother”.

But it is the memory of his real brother, Bob, that prompted him to speak out against the Government’s unwillingness to extend the trial of the Newcastle solution to Sydney’s CBD.

That is despite the president of the NSW Police Association, Scott Weber, calling on the government to do just that.

Reverend Crews said the youths were charged by police over his brother’s death in 1964, but eventually they were acquitted of his brother’s manslaughter.

Still, the effect on his family had been devastating, he said.

“It makes me feel enormously sad, really it does. If speaking out helps, then my brother’s death isn’t so useless, you know?” he said.

In his letter to Mr O’Farrell, Reverend Crews reflects on the almost weekly reports of people being injured in alcohol-fuelled violence in the city.

One of the latest attacks occurred in Bondi on December 14, when 23-year-old Michael McEwan was knocked unconscious in an attack that left him in a coma in hospital for a week.

“One more young person killed is one too many, but it’s a tragedy that is likely to happen unless you act,” Reverend Crews writes in his letter to Mr O’Farrell.

“I appeal to you as the good man I know you are to help stop this violence. Please introduce the Newcastle solution now. I don’t want any more fathers to have to lock away their son’s photographs for thirty years before they can bear to look at them again.”

Reverend Crews said alcohol was being promoted to the point where it was creating more violence than ever before.

“We know lockouts at Newcastle worked, we know that there was decreased violence, and I’m just a bit staggered that something as obvious as that isn’t being followed up,” he said.

“To me it shows the strength of the alcohol lobby, that it’s able to push onto society outcomes society doesn’t want but it’s powerful enough to almost paralyse governments.”

The government’s list of achievements in tackling booze-fuelled violence includes hundreds more police patrolling the streets, sobering-up centres and a “three strikes” policy for pubs and clubs where violence frequently occurs.

It will also extend a liquor licence freeze in the Oxford Street-Darlinghurst area until mid-2015, amid concerns about outlet density.

Barry O’Farrell’s office has been contacted for comment.

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What Christmas means to us after the loss of our baby

Saturday, 15. June 2019

It happens every year. No sooner have you flipped your calendar over to October, the onslaught starts: Christmas. Lately I have felt nauseous every time I’ve walked in to a shop and am left wondering how I’m going to get through another festive season without my credit card bill going through the roof.

It’s not to say I don’t like Christmas; I do. And I like it so much more than I used to now that I have children of my own. It is just that each year I try desperately to keep a lid on all things festive, and every year it seems the advertisers and retailers keep shifting the goal posts, making it harder and harder to keep things simple (and easy on the wallet).

We’re a family on one quite modest wage, so it’s quite simply beyond us to lavish our kids with dozens of expensive and often bulky gifts each year. This Christmas my children are four and two years old. For the past few years, I have only bought them very minimal gifts – a couple of books and some t-shirts to see them through the summer ahead. This year won’t be much different.

But really, for us, Christmas is about getting together with family; cooking beautiful meals and watching the kids have fun and play together. It’s about being thankful for what we have, using it as a time to reflect and look forward to what will hopefully be another happy and healthy year ahead.

We had a very happy Christmas Day in 2007, when we excitedly announced to our family we were six weeks pregnant with our first baby Hope. Then nine months later, five days past her due date, she was unexpectedly and tragically stillborn.

So there is always one missing at our Christmas table each year, always one little face we will think about and wonder about who she would have been.

If she’d lived, would my outlook on Christmas have been different? We’ll never know, as that’s not the life we ended up living.

Though we try and limit our spending at Christmas time each year, there is one way we are happy to splash around a bit of cash: in Hope’s honour, each year we make a donation to the Stillbirth Foundation Australia. We can’t buy gifts for her – not books, not t-shirts, not toys, not anything – so this feels like one way we can give back to hopefully spare other parents from our heartbreak in the future. I know there are literally thousands of charities calling our for our hard earned dollars this time of year, but this is the one we chose to support.

For us, it’s not all about how much you spend and how many more plastic junky toys you have to fill up your kid’s Christmas stockings. It is about being with those you love and trying to make a difference, in any small way you can. We might not spend a lot in terms of dollars, but we do try to spend our time and thoughts wisely at this time of year.

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Kevin Pietersen ‘good as gold’ for England duties

Saturday, 15. June 2019

England captains slam SwannNan blames ‘nasty’ AussiesSwann war of words

Kevin Pietersen has reaffirmed his commitment to playing for England, saying he was currently “as good as gold”, as Graeme Swann reiterated his parting sledge upon his retirement was not directed at his former team-mates.

Displaying all the confidence which has made him one of the star batsmen of the modern era, Pietersen said he was “batting as well as I’ve ever batted”, despite his lean series, and called himself a “clown” for his first-innings dismissal to Peter Siddle in Adelaide.

But he refused to be drawn into the controversy started by Swann on Sunday when the off-spinner surprised the cricket world by immediately retiring from all forms of cricket, days before the start of the Boxing Day Test match.

Swann used his column with England’s The Sun newspaper to emphatically deny his press conference comment that current international players “have no idea how far up their own backsides they are” was directed at Pietersen.

“I’d like to make it clear that I wasn’t talking about Kevin Pietersen or any England player when I made some comments during my retirement press conference,” Swann wrote.

“Myself and Kev have had a very good working relationship and the way he has reintegrated himself back into the team during the last year has been spot-on.”

On Tuesday, Pietersen was defiant, frank and forthright during a rare 10-minute press appearance, but most fiery when the Swann subject was broached, saying his interest levels in yesterday’s commentary about Swann’s comments were “less than zero”.

Asked if he believed Swann’s comments were referring to him, Pietersen said: “Have you been on the boundary? You should come and field with me on Thursday or Friday and see what I get called on the boundary.

“It’s a lot worse things I’ve been called but yesterday was a family day and I’m not giving any energy to what happened yesterday. The only energy I’ve got on this tour left in me is for Melbourne on the 26th, training today and training tomorrow, and for Sydney.”

On Swann’s decision to retire mid-series, Pietersen said: “Everybody makes decisions, they all make decisions.

“He’s 34-year-old grown man, he’s had a fantastic career for England. It gives Monty Panesar a fantastic opportunity to now become a great bowler and you all know what I think of left-arm spinners.”

Pietersen’s commitment to England has been questioned throughout this series after a string of cavalier dismissals which led to former great Geoff Boycott labelling him a “mug”.

Pietersen, however, said he would stick with the flair and aggression which has netted him 8052 Test runs and has him sitting fifth on England’s all-time runs-scorer’s list.

“I’ve got myself in every single time. I felt like a clown in Adelaide when I hit that ball to mid-wicket to Siddle, I just didn’t feel good at the crease at all – some days you have them,” said Pietersen, who is averaging 27.5 this series.

“Every single other time I’ve batted I’ve felt really, really good. I’ve got myself in every single time I’ve batted. Then a couple of times I got myself out and couple of times fortune didn’t favour the brave.

“It’s just a case making sure I keep doing what I do because it’s proved successful.

“If a situation dictates a certain way I play, I’ve proved it over the last however many years I’ll play to the situation of the game.

“I haven’t got a hundred (this series), I might get one on Thursday and might be sitting here all nice and happy.”

Pietersen remains committed to playing for England, his goal of scoring 10,000 Test runs and winning the 2015 World Cup.

“I’m 33 years of age, I’m batting as well as I’ve ever batted, I’ll retire when I can’t get up to play for England, I’m good as gold at the moment,” Pietersen said.

“I don’t know why you have to ask me. I wake up every single day trying to improve.”

Pietersen denied England’s team spirit had fractured but admitted the morale in any losing dressing room would never be high.

“When you win it’s great, when you lose it’s not, it’s simple. You ask any sports player, you ask any sports coach, you ask anybody, when you lose it’s great, when you lose it’s not,” Pietersen said.

“There’s nothing you can do about it.

“The pride is there, the passion is there but when you lose there’s a lot of people taking pot shots at a dressing room.

“If you guys came to any of our team meetings or took a real good look into the way the boys are training they’re trying their backsides off.

“Some days they win, some days it works, some days it doesn’t. That’s what you sign up for in sport, you can’t always win mate.”

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Ten things you should know about Mikhail Kalashnikov, the inventor of the AK-47

Saturday, 15. June 2019

Gun creator … Mikhail Kalashnikov shows a model of his world-famous AK-47 assault rifle at home in the Ural Mountain city of Izhevsk in 1997. Gun creator … Mikhail Kalashnikov shows a model of his world-famous AK-47 assault rifle at home in the Ural Mountain city of Izhevsk in 1997.

Gun creator … Mikhail Kalashnikov shows a model of his world-famous AK-47 assault rifle at home in the Ural Mountain city of Izhevsk in 1997.

Mikhail Kalashnikov, the man credited as being the inventor of the world’s most famous assault rifle, has died at the age of 94. Here are 10 facts about the inventor and his invention:

1. An image of the Kalashnikov appears on Mozambique’s national flag as a symbol of the country’s struggle for independence from Portugal, its former colonial master.

2. In some African countries the name “Kalash”, short for Kalashnikov, is a common boy’s name.

3. The AK-47 has only eight moving parts, can be broken down and reassembled in 30 seconds and will work in conditions that would render many other small arms inoperable.

4. In his youth, Mikhail Kalashnikov dreamed of becoming a poet and wrote poetry his entire life. “There are many bad poets out there without me,” he said 2009. “I went along a different path.”

5. While he was always proud of his invention, he once said he wished he had invented something that farmers could use, such as a lawnmower.

6. While he never made any money directly out of his invention, in his later life Kalashnikov franchised his name to makers of vodka, umbrellas and pocket knives.

7. Kalashnikovs are often handed out as part of the traditional compensation process in Yemen. Earlier this month, 101 AK-47s were given out to relatives of those killed in a US drone strike on a wedding convoy.

8. In 2004, Playboy magazine placed the AK-47 fourth on its list of Fifty Products that Changed the World. It was ranked less important than the Apple Mac desktop computer, the Pill, and the Sony Betamax video machine, and more influential than breast implants, crack cocaine and the Big Mac.

9. Rapper Lil Wayne has a hit with his song AK-47, and Tupac Shakur had one of the guns tattooed on his stomach.  A popular song in Sudan ran: “Can’t get no cash? / You’re trash without a Kalash”.

10. Estimates put production of the AK-47 and its derivatives at 70 to 100 million.

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