Be 'Foodsafe' - Clean, Cook, Cover and Chill this summer

12 December 2001

Thousands of New Zealanders welcoming summer with picnics, barbecues, camping and Christmas parties will have their holiday plans disrupted by tummy bugs and food poisoning because of unsafe food handling, says Dr Greg Simmons of the New Zealand Foodsafe Partnership.

"New Zealand has record levels of food-borne illness and each summer tens of thousands of people face disruption to their Christmas plans because they don't follow basic food safety rules. Research tells us that nearly 40 percent of food-borne illnesses, or more than 48,000 cases per year, will be due to incorrect food handling in the home.

"The recent warm, moist conditions we have been experiencing are ideal conditions for bacteria growth and spread. Remembering the food handling basics of Clean, Cook, Cover and Chill is more important than ever when the temperatures start rising.

"New Zealand produces some of the world's safest food, but what happens after people purchase it and take it home can make the difference between safe food and giving family or friends a tummy bug for the summer holidays," says Dr Simmons.

The New Zealand Foodsafe Partnership is a collaboration between members of the food industry, service industries, producer boards, public health agencies, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Ministry of Health and consumer groups. It aims to promote simple consistent safe food messages to New Zealand.

The Foodsafe Partnership is running a summer campaign comprising television, radio and print advertising as well as posters and brochures. There is also a website -   and an "0800 FOODSAFE" number for expert information and advice about specific queries.

The four key messages the Partnership promotes are:

  • Clean Handle food with clean hands. Wash your hands and dry them thoroughly before handling food; after handling raw meat and poultry; after going to the toilet or changing nappies; after handling pets and after gardening. Wash knives and utensils and scrub chopping boards between preparation of raw and cooked foods.
  • Cook Defrost frozen foods in the fridge before cooking. Cool hot foods, covered, for no more than 30 minutes before refrigerating. Reheat leftovers until steaming hot right through and do not reheat more than once. Preheat the oven to the recommended temperature before adding food. Cook chicken, meat patties and sausages thoroughly and in accordance with the instructions. Ensure there are no traces of pink meat or juices before eating. Do not put cooked meat back on the same plate that held the raw meat.
  • Cover Cover foods before storing in the cupboard or fridge. Store raw and cooked foods separately - store raw meats in the bottom of the fridge and ensure juices don't drip onto other foods.
  • Chill Keep food very hot or very cold. A chilly bin is a good way of keeping chilled products cold when taking them home from the supermarket. Put a frozen chilly pad in with your picnic foods.

New Zealanders should always remember to check the use-by dates of food - if in doubt, throw it out!

"The four simple rules of Clean, Cook, Cover and Chill are commonsense things that can make a real difference to the health of families. The Foodsafe Partnership's summer campaign is designed to remind people of the things they can do to prevent food-borne illness spoiling their holiday season," Dr Simmons says.


For further information contact:

Dr Greg Simmons, Auckland District Health Board, on 09 623 4613 or 025 884 657
or Rachel Dahlberg, MAF Communications Adviser on 04 498 9806 or 021 392 431

Contact MPI

for general enquiries phone

0800 00 83 33