Food safety

Buy or gather, prepare, cook and store food in ways that keep it safe to eat.

Food safety is about making sure that food is safe to eat. Harmful bacteria and viruses (bugs) can live in some foods, and if the food is not safely gathered, prepared, cooked or stored the bugs can make you or other people ill.

Buy safe food

  • Check the ‘use by’ date before you buy.
  • Avoid foods with damaged packaging, such as dented cans or broken seals.
  • Choose undamaged and unripe (or just ripe) fresh vegetables and fruit.

Gathering food

  • Always wash food that you have gathered or bought from someone who has gathered it, such as pūha and watercress.
  • Before gathering seafood, check with your local public health unit or the Ministry for Primary Industries website that the area you will be gathering from is clean and is free from pollution.

Storing food

  • Make sure the fridge temperature is at or less than 4°C.
  • Store raw meat away from other food.
  • Follow storage advice on labels.
  • Cover leftovers and store them in the fridge (within 2 hours). Use leftovers within 2 days of cooking.

Preparing and cooking food

  • Always wash and dry your hands before and after preparing food.
  • Use clean surfaces and utensils to prepare foods.
  • Make sure reheated food is steaming hot right through and only reheated once.
  • Some foods are more likely to have harmful bugs in them, such as meat, chicken, fish, milk products, rice and legumes. Make sure you safely store and cook these foods. If in doubt, throw them out.

You can find out more about food safety on the Ministry for Primary Industries website.

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