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Unit reminds com./hospital kitchens of standards

20 February 2004

Public Health Unit reminds commercial/hospital kitchens of
need to maintain food safety and hygiene standards

Hawke’s Bay District Health Board’s public health unit, have issued a notice to restaurants, cafes, rest-homes and private hospitals to remind them of the importance of maintaining food safety and hygiene standards during the current gas shortage.

Medical officer of health, Dr Lester Calder, said people need to plan ahead and think about how they will cope if the gas runs out completely. How will you cook, clean and do the dishes with no gas-powered ovens, hobs or hot water?

“If basic infection controls and food safety practices are not followed, outbreaks of food poisoning and communicable diseases could occur.

“If people are cooking large quantities of food on barbecues, or on an electric stove, meat should be heated until it is at least 77 degrees Celsius inside the thickest part of the meat.

“Hand-held probes should be used to ensure meat is cooked to a ‘safe’ temperature. These temperature probes can be purchased at commercial catering and kitchen/houseware retailers.

Handwashing can become lax when there’s no hot water on tap, however, you can effectively wash your hands in cold water with soap; and there are water-less antiseptic hand hygiene products available from chemists or medical supply companies.

“The good news is, dishwashing can be avoided with the use of disposable plates, cups and crockery. These are designed for single-use and should be thrown out once used.

“While it’s important to conserve gas, it’s imperative that people don’t cut corners when it comes to food or patient safety, particularly when using alternative cooking methods,” Dr Calder said.


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