New Zealand food supply is amongst the safest in the world - however, the incidence of food related illness is increasing. Here are some tips that will assist you in ensuring that the food you eat is safe - especially during the warmer months of the year.
When food shopping
- Check 'use by' and 'best before' dates, if its past these dates or you are unlikely to use it before those dates, don't buy.
- Avoid buying cans of food that are swollen.
- Avoid vacuum-sealed packs that appear loose or saggy.
- Avoid chilled products that don't feel cold, or frozen products that don't feel solid, as this suggests the store may have erratic or incorrect fridge/freezer temperatures.
- Avoid hot foods that are not steaming hot, such as rotisserie chickens.
- Ensure meat and chicken is packed in separate bags.
- Avoid leaving food in the car after shopping, instead go straight home and pack it away.
Check 'use by' and 'best before' dates, if its past these dates or you are unlikely to use it before those dates, don't buy.
- Keep cold food cold - ensure that your refrigerator is between 2-4°C.
- Cover foods before refrigeration, to make sure that food from one dish does not spill into another dish.
- Cool leftovers quickly by putting in the refrigerator straight away (even when still hot) and use within 2-3 days.
- Store raw meat at the bottom of the fridge to avoid juice dripping onto other foods.
- Store foods that are likely to be eaten without cooking (e.g. leftover meats, ham and precooked rice) at the top of the fridge.
- Check that your freezer is below minus 18°C.
- Food can only be frozen once - never thaw out then refreeze.
- In the pantry keep foods in airtight containers, to reduce the likelihood of unwanted visits from various insects.
Keep cold food cold - ensure that your refrigerator is between 2-4°C.
- Wash hands thoroughly before preparing food and after going to the toilet or handling pets. Use soap and warm water.
- Use separate chopping boards for cooked and raw foods.
- Wash utensils such as knives, chopping boards, tongs etc with hot water in between handling raw and cooked food.
- Don't thaw foods at room temperature - instead, thaw frozen foods in the refrigerator or microwave.
- Use paper towels rather than dishcloths, to clean up messy spills such as raw meat juice.
- Wash all fruit and vegetables before use.
Cooking and reheating
- Cook food thoroughly and keep hot food hot (i.e. above 60°C).
- Most food bacteria grow between temperatures of 5°C and 60°C - this is the temperature danger zone. Keep foods out of this zone to slow down or prevent bacteria growth.
- Heat foods to above 75°C to kill most bacteria. When reheating food, also ensure that it is heated to above 75°C. Where possible, check the temperature with a thermometer.
Food safety in pregnancy
During pregnancy, extra care is required with food preparation and choice. Cold meats, soft cheeses, raw eggs and seafood should be avoided.
Wash all fruit and vegetables thoroughly.
During pregnancy, extra care is required with food preparation and choice. Cold meats, soft cheeses, raw eggs and seafood should be avoided. Wash all fruit and vegetables thoroughly.
For more information visit http://www.nzfsa.govt.nz/consumers/food-safety-topics/foodborne-illnesses/pregnancy/index.htm
Based on information from the New Zealand Foodsafe Partnership http://www.foodsafe.org.nz/node/94 and The New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA) http://www.nzfsa.govt.nz/consumers/tips-on-keeping-food-safe/