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Safe hangi guide’s value underlined by illnesses

15 October 2004

Safe hangi guide’s value underlined by illnesses

Food Safety Minister Annette King says there has been an overwhelmingly positive response, particularly from health protection officers, to the New Zealand Food Safety Authority’s guide on safe food practices in preparing and cooking a hangi.

Ms King, who launched the guide in Manukau on October 5, said the guide had been developed following an investigation of a 1997 case when 63 people had been affected with foodborne illness at an Auckland hui.

“That particular incident was the catalyst for this guide, but there have been several other recent incidents too. Health protection officers, who have contacted NZFSA since the guide came out, say hangi food has been implicated in other outbreaks, including a salmonella outbreak late last year affecting at least 64 people, including six hospitalized, two with septicaemia and one near death with kidney failure.”

Ms King says: “The cost to those people, and to their families, employers and the country, far outweighs the $20,000 NZFSA spent on developing, launching and promoting the guide.

“A key priority when NZFSA was established in July 2002 was to reduce the incidence of domestic foodborne illness. Foodborne illness is often caused by food prepared in non-commercial premises such as someone’s home, at a party or on a marae.”

Ms King said NZFSA was producing a series of consumer education fact sheets and publications, including Food Safety in Pregnancy.

“Each year NZFSA is also heavily involved in promotions for cooking food safely on barbecues. That is another honoured Kiwi pastime, just like putting down a hangi.

“New Zealand’s record in foodborne illness is far worse than it should. Foodborne illness has the potential to have devastating effects on our economy, particularly tourism, and NZFSA and the Government are determined to lead on as many fronts as possible in making New Zealand as safe a place to eat as possible.”

ENDS

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