The Ministry for Primary Industries is reminding people of the importance of the 3C's – Clean, Cook and Chill – to make sure they can properly enjoy food over the holiday period.
MPI's Director Plants, Food and Environment, Peter Thomson says there is a heightened risk of foodborne illness during summer and the holidays in particular.
"During summer we tend to do more cooking or preparing of food outside at picnics, barbeques and on camping trips, which means foods might be out of the fridge for longer than usual,"says Mr Thomson. "Warmer, more humid weather also increases the risk factor."
"We have a very good food safety system in New Zealand with good rules to make sure food is safe and suitable for consumption. However consumers also have a role to play in keeping themselves, their friends and family safe from foodborne illness.”
Fortunately, you can reduce the risk of you, your family or friends having a nasty foodborne illness by following simple food safety steps:
- Remember the 3Cs – Clean, Cook, Chill – to help keep harmful bugs at bay
- Begin with clean hands – wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap and dry your hands for 20 seconds before and after handling all food, including fresh produce
- Barbeque safely by cooking meat thoroughly – meat should be steaming hot (over 75 degrees Celsius) all the way through
- Keep raw food separate from cooked food. Don’t use a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry, or seafood for anything else unless the plate has first been washed in hot, soapy water. Keep utensils and surfaces clean.
- Washing fresh produce under running water is an important part of ensuring your favourite fruits and veges are safe to consume
- Many pre-cut, bagged fresh produce items like lettuce are pre-washed. If the package label indicates the contents have been pre-washed, you do not need to wash it again
- Most harmful bacteria cannot grow at low refrigeration temperatures. Set your fridge temperature between 2 degrees Celsius and 5 degrees.
"Cooking destroys harmful bugs. Cooking some specific higher risk foods, like bean sprouts, frozen imported berries or raw milk for instance, will help keep you safe. While some consumers may wish to eat these products without cooking, they need to understand there is a risk in doing so," says Mr Thomson.