Keep food safe this summer

Published: Thu 18 Dec 2008 04:36 PM
Media Release: Keep food safe this summer
Warm summer temperatures and cooking food outside are ideal conditions for bacteria to multiply and cause foodborne illness. Consumer NZ's Belinda Allan said there are more than 200,000 cases of foodborne illness in New Zealand each year. An estimated 40 percent of these happen because people haven't handled food properly at home.
Follow the Foodsafe Partnership's "clean, cook, cover chill" tips to keep your family foodsafe this summer.
• Keep your fridge between 2 and 4 degrees celsius. Older fridges often run at higher temperatures so check it with a fridge thermometer.
• Replace poor seals - they stop a fridge from maintaining its temperature.
• Defrost food and marinate meat in the fridge, not on the bench.
• Cover raw meat and store on the bottom shelf of your fridge to stop any juices dripping on other foods. Even one drop of raw chicken can make you sick.
Kitchen cautious
• Use separate chopping boards, knives and other utensils for raw and cooked meat, fruit and vegetables, and ready-to-eat foods.
• After preparing raw meat, wash your knives and other utensils and scrub chopping boards thoroughly.
• Wash all fruit and veges before making salads.
• Wash your dishcloth regularly. Microwave a damp dishcloth at least every day for one minute on high to kill any bugs.
BBQs and picnics
• Keep food in a chilly bin with frozen slicker pads until you're ready to cook and/or eat it. Wrap raw meat securely so meat juices don't contaminate other food.
• Pre-cook minced meat, sausages and poultry before barbecuing.
• Cook chicken, pork, meat patties and sausages right through. Use a meat thermometer to check temperatures.
• Boil marinades you have used for raw meat before serving with cooked meat.
• Serve raw and cooked foods on separate, clean plates, with separate, clean tongs.
• Keep hot foods hot (60 degrees celsius) until you serve it.
• Bin perishable food that's been left out for more than two hours.
The Christmas Turkey
• Defrost the frozen turkey on the bottom shelf of the fridge thoroughly before cooking. Allow about 24 hours for every 2-2.5kgs.
• Follow the cooking instructions. It's best to cook the stuffing separately or increase the recommended cooking time to make sure the stuffing is fully cooked.
• Throw out refrigerated leftovers after two to three days.
• Don't refreeze leftovers a second time.
• Reheat until steaming hot inside. Don't reheat more than once.
• Microwaves tend to cook unevenly. Stir during cooking. Don't rely on bubbling: it may only mean part of the food is hot enough.
• If food smells bad, that's a sure sign it's gone off. But if it doesn't smell, don't assume it's fine.
Wash those hands
• Always wash your hands with hot soapy water for 20 seconds and dry them well on a clean dry towel for a further 20 seconds (the 20+20 rule) before and after handling food.
• Do food shopping last and go straight home.
• In hot weather use a cool bag or chilly bin for perishables.
• Unpack perishables first and get them into the fridge as soon as possible.
Go to for more food safety tips and check out your knowledge with our food safety quiz.

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