INDEPENDENT NEWS

Being Food Safe

Published: Fri 14 Dec 2007 01:43 PM
Being Food Safe
With just a week to go until Christmas, it's time to ask a few questions: Do you cook family favourites and post them off to family and friends, or order food from specialist suppliers? If so, how do you ensure the food is still safe to eat when it reaches its final destination?
Perishable food held at unsafe temperatures is one of the top causes of foodborne illness. That means it needs to be packaged and shipped in a way that keeps it at a safe temperature.
Some simple food safety tips will help you send perishable foods safely, and decide if they have been handled properly and continue to be food-safe when you receive them:
Items like meat or cheese need to be kept cold or frozen by packing them with a cold source (such as a freezer pad) and then in foam or heavy corrugated cardboard. Clearly label the outer package 'Keep Refrigerated' to alert the carrier and recipient.
Perishable food should be delivered as quickly as possible (ideally, same day or overnight).
When receiving a food item marked 'Keep Refrigerated' open it immediately and check that the temperature is appropriate, ie cool or frozen. If frozen, it should arrive with ice crystals still visible.
Even if a product is smoked, cured and/or fully cooked, it is still a perishable product and must be kept cold. If perishable food arrives warm, do not taste or consume the suspect food.
Let the recipient know "the gift is in the mail" so someone is ready to receive it. Don't have perishable items delivered to an office unless you know it will arrive on a work day and there is refrigerator space available for keeping it cold.
Dried food items, such as dried fruits and canned nuts, are safe to mail since bacteria need moisture to grow. Canned meat and fish specialties, dips and cracker spreads also make nice treats, but don't use any cans that are damaged or swollen.
Foods should not be mailed in glass containers because they can break during delivery.
Dense and dry baked goods, such as fruit cakes and biscotti, are good choices for mailing because they will not mould. Other suitable baked goods include commercially packaged cakes, cookies and crackers shipped in airtight tins.
When mailing baked goods, such as biscuits or homemade soft sweets, wrap each piece individually and pack items in Styrofoam pellets or foam to help cushion food during the trip. Place in a sturdy box and seal securely with packing tape. Hard homemade sweets, such as toffee, are safe to mail because their high sugar content prevents bacterial growth.
There are restrictions on some foods you may want to bring in or take out of New Zealand, including food delivered by postal or courier service. NZFSA's website has more information on these restrictions: www.nzfsa.govt.nz/consumers/bringing-food-in-out-of-nz.
Ends

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