Preventing and controlling infection

Preventing infections and stopping them from spreading reduces the need for antibiotics and so helps fight antibiotic resistance.

Clean hands

  • Good hand hygiene is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. 
  • Many diseases and infections are spread by not washing hands with soap and clean, running water.
  • Clean hands are especially important when handling and preparing food. 
  • Preventing infections through good hand hygiene reduces the need for antibiotics and reduces resistance.

Preparing food

It is highly unlikely that antibiotic residues in food would lead to resistance. Residues are very low and are likely to be further reduced by cooking, other food processing and by metabolism in the gut.

However, if you are concerned about antibiotic residues in food there are some things you can do while preparing food. These steps will also help minimise the risk of exposure from bacteria and viruses that cause food borne illness: 

  • make sure your hands, clothes, equipment and kitchen surfaces are clean before preparing food – they will also need to be kept clean throughout food preparation
  • use different chopping boards and utensils to prepare different foods
  •  don’t wash raw poultry, beef, pork, lamb or veal before cooking as this can spread bacteria to other foods, utensils and surfaces
  • cook food properly
  • wash fruit and vegetables thoroughly before eating.

You can find out more about antibiotics in food by visiting the Food Standards Australia New Zealand website.

Vaccination

  • We can prevent many infections by keeping up to date with vaccinations. 
  • Vaccines prevent infections and have assisted in completely eliminating some diseases, such as smallpox.
  • The flu is a viral and not a bacterial infection – antibiotics will not help. 
  • Avoid the flu by getting vaccinated. 
  • More information about vaccinations is available from the Immunise Australia Program.

Overseas travel

  • Travellers can become sick by eating food, drinking water, or touching surfaces that have bacteria. 
  • Good hand hygiene, having the recommended vaccinations and drinking clean bottled water can help prevent infections while travelling.
  • Bear in mind that standards of food handling and preparation may be different in some countries from those in Australia. Illness caused by poor food handling is common in some locations. Antibiotic resistance is more common in some countries, and different countries can have different types of resistant bacteria.
  • In some countries, antibiotics are readily available for purchase without prescription. Avoid the temptation to purchase antibiotics when travelling overseas for use when you are back in Australia.
  • Information about taking care of your health while travelling overseas is available on the SmartTraveller website.
Last updated: 
8 November 2017