Foodsafe Week: Beat the bugs this summer. Each year about 200,000 New Zealanders get sick from foodborne bugs and estimates are that almost half of those cases are due to mishandling food in the home. With more people buying smarter, including making bulk purchases, the potential for food safety problems can also be multiplied.

Foodsafe Week (November 9-15) is held at the start of every Kiwi summer to highlight the importance of food safety in the home. The theme for Foodsafe Week 2009 is preparing food safely for family and friends. “As summer approaches our thoughts turn to entertaining friends, picnics and barbeques. The last thing we want is to send our guests home with an upset stomach instead of memories of great times, good food and fun people,” says the New Zealand Food Safety Authority’s principal adviser of microbiology Roger Cook.

 “Foodborne illness is not always just a minor inconvenience. It can have long-term effects and be extremely serious for the very young and the frail elderly as well as people with suppressed immune systems. “Make your party memorable for all the right reasons by remembering the 4Cs: clean, cook, cover, chill – and wash and dry your hands thoroughly to keep your food safe.”

The 4Cs of food safety are:

 Clean

  • Always wash your hands before handling any food.
  • Wash knives and utensils and scrub chopping boards between preparing raw and cooked food.

 Cook

  • Defrost frozen foods thoroughly in the fridge or microwave before cooking.
  • Cook food properly.

 Cover

  • Keep food covered until you’re ready to cook or eat it.
  • Keep raw meat and poultry covered in the bottom of the fridge and away from ready-to-eat food.
  • Marinate food in the fridge, not on the bench top.

 Chill

  • Clean out the fridge so there’s plenty of room for the air to circulate and ensure it is set between 2 and 4°C.
  • It is usually safe to make up food ahead of time, such as the night before, providing you store it in the fridge overnight.
  • Keep meats, salads (especially pasta or rice salads), seafood and ready-to-eat foods such as dips and desserts in the fridge until you are ready to eat them.
  • Don’t let leftovers sit too long . As soon as steam stops rising, refrigerate or freeze them in leak-proof containers. Throw out any perishable items left out for more than four hours.
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