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Taking the barb out of the barbeque this summer

MEDIA RELEASE 2 NOVEMBER 2006

Taking the barb out of the barbeque this summer

FOODSAFE WEEK 13-19 NOVEMBER

What better way to enjoy summer than to eat outdoors? Before you slap those sausages on the barbeque and whip up a salad – take a minute to ensure you, your friends and family will be safe from the misery of food poisoning.

Every year many New Zealanders get food borne illnesses. It is estimated that there have been more than eight thousand cases of foodborne illness in the Bay of Plenty so far this year. About 40% are caused by unsafe food handling practices in the home.

“Whether you go on a picnic, barbeque or camping trip – you’ll be taking your food out of the fridge or freezer. As soon as the temperature of the food begins to rise, bacteria in the food can multiply and this is obviously dangerous,” says Health Protection Officer Helen van der Werf. “Unless food is handled properly, it can cause problems so keep hot food HOT and cold food COLD – or don’t keep it at all.”

Cleaned the barbeque since last summer? A dirty barbeque is a haven for pests and rodents who love to spread bacteria so make sure it has been cleaned before you use it. Your hands and any utensils also need to be cleaned thoroughly (wash for 20 seconds, dry for 20 seconds) before and after preparing food.

“Cross contamination from raw to cooked foods is one of the biggest risks,” says Helen van der Werf. “Be careful with knives, cutting boards, hands – anything used for raw and cooked foods and clean them thoroughly when moving from raw to cooked foods.” Preferably use different chopping boards for meat and other food.

The golden rule for BBQs is that perishable foods should always be refrigerated until needed, which means removing food from the fridge or chilly bin only when you are ready to cook it on the barbeque. Also remember to ensure food is not packed into a chilly bin while it’s still warm - food cannot cool quickly enough in a chilly bin to prevent bacteria growing.

“When cooking, always make sure chicken, pork, sausages and minced products like hamburger patties are cooked until the juices run clear – there should be no hint of pink. It can be better to pre-cook these foods,” she says. “When taking foods off the barbeque, use a clean plate, not the plate which held the raw meat.”

It’s simple – Clean, Cook, Cover, Chill.

Toi Te Ora - Public Health
Health Protection Officer

ENDS

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