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Food hygiene practices are improving

Media Release

1 June 2001

Food hygiene practices are improving

NEW ZEALANDERS are improving their food hygiene practices according to a campaign evaluation report produced by the Foodsafe Partnership.

The Foodsafe Partnership, which includes the Ministry of Health, health professionals, food industry experts and other government agencies held a national food safety awareness campaign late last year aimed at improving safe food practices in the home.

Partnership spokesperson Dr Greg Simmons says the 2000/01 Foodsafe campaign built on the success of the first campaign in 1999/2000 and delivered its Clean, Cook, Cover, Chill messages to a wider audience.

"Our aim was a reduction in the incidence of food borne illness. The home cook is frequently the last line of defence in the battle against foodborne illness. It is important that new food safety initiatives by food producers, processors and retailers are complemented by consumer education if the goal of reducing foodborne illness is to be achieved".

"The results of our latest survey show the messages are getting through".

The campaign was evaluated using a postal questionnaire sent nationally to 2000 people over the age of 18 years and randomly selected from the general electoral roll. An evaluation report released in May shows that 83 percent of respondents recalled seeing at least one of the promotions used in the campaign. Forty-three percent of these respondents stated that they made at least one change as a result of this information.

Common behavioural changes attributed to the campaign were:

thawing food in the fridge or microwave (17% reported behaviour change) using a different chopping board for cutting raw meat/chicken and other foods (14%) refrigerating foods within 30 minutes of cooking (13%) washing and drying hands for 10 seconds (13%) cleaning chopping boards between different tasks (12%).

The Partnership's 'Keep Food Safe This Summer' pamphlet also produced a dramatic change in behaviour according to the evaluation.

A Ministry of Health pamphlet called 'Keeping Food Safe' was associated with statistically significant change in six of ten target behaviours.

Good food safety behaviour in the Keeping Food Safe pamphlet includes:

checking the 'use-by' date before buying food avoiding any damaged foods eg dented tins, cracked eggs, and food packaging with broken seals checking that the food in hot display cabinets is steaming hot when you buy it in your refrigerator at home the temperature should between 2 and 4 degrees Celsius only store cooked food for two days if it is to be reheated. If it is not used then throw it out food should never be reheated more than once

The 'Keep Food Safe This Summer' and 'Keeping Food Safe' pamphlets are available from local public health units.

ends

For more information contact: Dr Greg Simmons, Auckland District Health Board (09) 623 4613, 025 884 657 Sally Giles, Hutt Valley District Health Board (04) 570 9303 Lynette Finnie, Public Health South, (03) 474 1700, 025 223 3713

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