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Reach for Food Covers This Summer

Media Statement

Tuesday 11 November 2003

Reach for Food Covers This Summer

With summer here many of us will attend or host barbecues and parties with family and friends, but don't forget that summer is also a high-risk time for food-borne illness, says Health Protection Officer Theresa Husband.

"Warm summer temperatures, an increase in outdoor living, different cooking processes, and the proliferation of flies and insects increase the risk of food-borne illness," Ms Husband said.

"And food-borne illness can be more than just a tummy upset. In some cases it can cause death, and with Listeriosis, spontaneous abortion.

This year the Public Health Unit and Gisborne District Council are working together in an effort to reduce the incidence of food-borne illnesses such as campylobacter and salmonella.

The local campaign, which includes a colouring competition and recipe competition, is part of the New Zealand Foodsafe Partnership Campaign. The Campaign involves public health units, food industry organisations and various Government departments.

Ms Husband said the only time food should be uncovered is when you are eating or preparing it.

"Contamination can be caused by a number of things - flies, the juice of uncooked meat and poultry dripping onto ready to eat food, hair, dirty hands, the list is endless. But keeping food covered helps prevent that."

- If you are eating outdoors, keep you food cool by storing it in a chilly bin with a frozen pad until it is cooked or eaten.

- Maintaining your fridge in good working order. Don't' overstock your fridge, let the air circulate. It should be kept at a temperature of between 0 and 4 degrees Celcius, and have seals that work.

- Keep all perishable foods in the fridge until you are ready to eat them . Never eat leftovers that have been out of the fridge for longer than two hours. Even do your meat marinading in the fridge."

Ms Husband said the children's colouring competition launched in conjunction with Gisborne District Council reminds youngsters about the "cover" message.

Entry forms will be available in primary schools this week and Ms Husband encourages parents to support their children's efforts.

Other activities to look out for will be a recipe competition encouraging those that enter to incorporate "cover up" messages within the recipe's method.

Anyone wanting more information on food storage and handling guidelines can contact the Public Health Unit on (06) 867 9119, Gisborne District Council on (06) 867 2049 or visit www.foodsafe.org.nz.

ENDS

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