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A timely reminder to keep food safe

A timely reminder to keep food safe

Safe food handling practices will prevent the spread of bacteria that may be found on raw meat and poultry to humans, the New Zealand Foodsafe Partnership said today.

There has been concern raised by microbiologists from Southern Community Laboratories and Dr Greg Cook of Otago University about vancomycin-resistant enterococci in poultry – antiobiotic resistance.

Foodsafe Partnership spokesman Dr Greg Simmons of the Auckland District Health Board says: “Summer is a high risk time for food-borne illness. This concern about antiobiotic resistance is a timely reminder of how important it is to keep the food we eat safe by taking care when dealing with and preparing food. We realise people are concerned about bacteria, which may carry the threat of antibiotic resistance, being present on food. But its easy to avoid transferring that bacteria by sticking to the four Cs – clean/cook/cover/chill.”

“A simple thing like cooking food thoroughly could mean the difference between staying healthy and getting sick as cooking kills the bacteria. We’ll be pushing this message and others during Foodsafe Week next week (December 2-8),” Dr Simmons said.

“It’s also important that people remember to wash their hands before cooking, before handling food, after handling raw meat and poultry, after going to the toilet, after changing nappies, handling pets or working in the garden,” Dr Simmons says.

The 4cs are: Clean hands before and after handling food. Wash knives and utensils and scrub chopping boards. Cook poultry, meat patties and sausages thoroughly. Reheat leftovers till piping hot. Cover food. Store raw and cooked food separately. Chill food. Use a chilly bin with a frozen chill pad when cooking and eating outdoors.

Other food safety tips include: Defrost frozen food thoroughly before cooking. Cool hot foods no longer than two hours before refrigerating. Minced meat, sausages and poultry need to be cooked until juices run clear. Pre-cook meat before barbecuing. Cover all foods before putting them in the fridge. Keep raw meat and poultry covered and away from ready to eat cooked products, fruit and vegetables.

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