Cook up food not bac­te­ria

Bay News - - NEWS -

What bet­ter way to en­joy sum­mer than to eat out­doors? Be­fore you fire up the bar­be­cue and whip up a salad, take a minute to en­sure you, your friends and fam­ily will be safe from the mis­ery of food poi­son­ing.

Ev­ery year lots of New Zealan­ders get food­borne ill­nesses and many are caused by un­safe food han­dling prac­tices in the home.

“Whether you go on a pic­nic, bar­be­cue or camp­ing trip— you’ll be tak­ing your food out of the fridge or freezer. As soon as the tem­per­a­ture of the food be­gins to rise, bac­te­ria in the food can mul­ti­ply and this could be a risk,” says med­i­cal of­fi­cer of health Dr Phil Shoemack. “Un­less per­ish­able food is han­dled prop­erly, it can cause prob­lems so keep hot food HOT and cold food COLD— or don’t keep it at all.”

Cleaned the bar­be­cue since last sum­mer? Adirty bar­be­cue is a haven for pests which love to spread bac­te­ria so make sure it has been cleaned be­fore you use it. Your hands and any utensils also need to be cleaned thor­oughly (wash for 20 sec­onds, dry for 20 sec­onds) be­fore and after pre­par­ing food.

“Cross con­tam­i­na­tion from raw to cooked foods is one of the big­gest risks,” says Dr Shoemack. “Be care­ful with knives, cut­ting boards, hands— any­thing used for raw and cooked foods and clean them thor­oughly when mov­ing from raw to cooked foods.”

Prefer­ably use dif­fer­ent chop­ping boards formeat and other food.

The golden rule for bar­be­cues is that per­ish­able foods should al­ways be re­frig­er­ated un­til needed, which means re­mov­ing food from the fridge or chilly bin only when you are ready to cook it. Also re­mem­ber to en­sure food is not packed into a chilly bin while it’s still warm— food can­not cool quickly enough in a chilly bin to pre­vent bac­te­ria grow­ing.

“When cook­ing, al­ways make sure chicken, pork, sausages and minced prod­ucts like ham­burger pat­ties are cooked un­til the juices run clear— there should be no hint of pink. It can be bet­ter to pre-cook these foods,” he says. “When tak­ing foods off the bar­be­cue, use a clean plate, not the plate which held the raw meat. Also, in­tro­duce va­ri­ety and health­ier choices for your fam­ily and friends with the ad­di­tion of op­tions such as bar­be­cued sweet corn, veg­e­tar­ian ke­babs, grilled egg­plant or zuc­chini.” It’s sim­ple— clean, cook, cover, chill. Visit www.mpi.govt.nz/nz­food­safety.

Hmmm . . . bar­be­cue food. But make sure the bar­be­cue it­self is clean.

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