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Don’t make your family & friends sick this summer

Don’t make your family and friends sick this summer

The New Zealand Foodsafe Partnership is urging people to take care with food as preparations for the party, barbecue and holiday season begin.

December 1-7 marks Foodsafe Week and the start of the New Zealand Foodsafe Partnership’s summer campaign to educate consumers on safe food handling practices.

“Summer is a hazardous time for foodborne illness. Bacteria multiply faster on food in moist, warm conditions,” New Zealand Foodsafe Partnership spokesperson and head of the New Zealand Food Safety Authority, Andrew McKenzie says.

“Add to that the fact that a lot of people are on holiday, the household cook is often catering for larger groups of people than usual and things tend to be a little more relaxed. All that can naturally lead to a drop in hygiene standards and unfortunately a dose of foodborne illness for some people.”

There are an estimated 119,000 cases of foodborne illness every year.

“It’s the bacteria on food that is not properly prepared or cooked that cause foodborne illness. Utensils and chopping boards can also spread bacteria through cross-contamination. I’m sure the last thing anyone would want to give their family or friends for Christmas this year is a case of foodborne illness,” Dr McKenzie says.

“The good news is that foodborne illness is preventable by practising the 4Cs of food safety - clean, cook, cover, chill. “

“Keeping food covered to prevent contamination is the theme of this year’s campaign, but the 4Cs are a package deal and need to be practised together. “

Clean Wash hands with soap and water and dry with a clean towel before handling food. Also wash and dry hands after handling raw meat and poultry, going to the toilet, changing nappies, handling pets and gardening. Wash knives and utensils and scrub chopping boards between preparation of raw and cooked foods. Keep your fridge clean.

Cook Defrost frozen foods thoroughly before cooking. Never leave hot food to cool for more than two hours before putting it in the fridge. Pre-cook minced meat (ie hamburgers), sausages and poultry before barbecuing. Cook minced meat (hamburgers) and sausages thoroughly until meat is no longer pink. Cook poultry until juices run clear.

Cover Keep all foods covered in the fridge, in the cupboard and outdoors to prevent contamination. Keep raw meat and poultry covered and away from ready-to-eat food, fruit and vegetables. When cooking outdoors, ensure that all food remains covered until ready to cook or eat.

Chill Ensure your fridge is operating at a temperature of between 0 and 4 degrees celcius. Keep raw meats and poultry in the bottom of the fridge to ensure their juices don’t drip on to other food. Keep all perishable foods in the fridge until you are ready to use them. When picnicking, keep food cool by using a frozen chilly pad and a chilly bin. Marinate food in the fridge, not on the bench.

“These are the basic guidelines of keeping food safe. It’s important that people remember these basic guidelines when preparing food for friends and family. People think foodborne illness is little more than a stomach ache, but it can have far worse consequences. “

Foodsafe week is being celebrated by a Foodsafe Celebrity Barbecue in Wellington on Friday December 5, hosted by celebrity chef Rick Rutledge-Manning.

For more information of food safety visit our website –

Other regional Foodsafe spokespeople can be contacted during Foodsafe Week. They are:

Auckland – Dr Greg Simmons (Auckland District Health) 09 262 1855 or 025 884657 Taranaki – Maree Rohleder (Taranaki Health Public Health Unit) 06 753 7798 Hawkes Bay – Joanne Lynch (Hawkes Bay District Health Board) 06 834 1815 Wellington – details above Christchurch - Denise Tully, (Crown Public Health) 03 379 9480 Dunedin – Lynette Finnie (Public Health South) (03) 474 1700

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