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Barbecue Food Safety Stressed

WARM summer temperatures, an increase in outdoor living, different cooking processes and the proliferation of flies and insects increase the risk of foodborne illness.

To help reduce the risks and promote safe barbecueing practices, the Foodsafe Partnership, a group made up of food industry organisations, public health services, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and consumer groups, have launched a campaign.

Statistics on foodborne illness outbreaks for 1997- 99 show that there are 11 percent more outbreaks in summer than winter. There is also a 12 percent rise in cases of Campylobacter and Salmonella ? two germs commonly foodborne during summer.

Group spokesperson Dr Greg Simmons says perishable food left out in the sun or in warm cars provides an environment where germs can multiply. He says outbreaks of foodborne illness are often directly related to barbecues and outdoor living.

A feature in the previous outbreaks has been the inadequate cooking of meat and poultry. "The thorough cooking of poultry, burgers, sausages and pork is essential. The barbecue cook represents a critical last line in the defence against food borne illness, providing basic rules are observed," says Dr Simmons.

These are the rules to follow: Before preparing food and after touching raw meat or poultry wash and dry hands thoroughly. Before cooking clean thoroughly all barbecue tools and surfaces where food is placed.

Defrost meat and poultry fully so it cooks evenly on the barbecue. Marinating food should be kept in the refrigerator. Keep food in the fridge or chilly bin until just prior to cooking. Use a chilly bin and icepacks to transport food from the supermarket. Outdoors, use an icepack and cool bag or chilly-bin to keep food cold. Store raw meat and poultry away from other foods and below ready to eat foods in the refrigerator. Refrigerate and quickly chill leftovers.

Ensure burgers, sausages, pork and poultry are cooked until the juices run clear. Use one set of utensils for raw meats and poultry and another set for cooked. Place cooked items on a clean plate, and on a separate plate from raw foods. Eat food as soon as possible after it is cooked. Keep food hot on the side of the grill rack or oven until it is eaten.

After cooking put food into a container, which allows quick cooling, cut up large pieces of meat, cover and refrigerate. Discard perishable food that has been left at room temperature for more than 2 hours.

For further information contact:

Greg Simmons, Auckland Healthcare (09) 623 4613, 025 884657, (09) 410 5759; Sally Giles, Hutt Valley Health (04) 570 9303, 025 2853489; Barry Armstrong (03) 379 9480.


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