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Warm weather prompts food safety warning

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 2/11/2016

As Kiwis start to daydream about their summer vacations, a government department is warning the warm weather could be a recipe for food-related illnesses.

The Ministry for Primary Industries has issued a list of tips for avoiding getting sick from home-cooked meals over the upcoming holidays - and it says it's not only chicken that's a threat.

MPI's public health medicine specialist Donald Campbell said Kiwis tended to do more of their cooking outside over the summer and were more likely to eat raw food, like fruits and salads.

"Bacteria grow faster in the warm moist conditions of the summer months, so can be present in higher numbers than we're used to in raw foods," he said.

The ministry says the way some fruits and vegetables are grown in gardens over summer means bacteria, viruses and nasty organisms can end up on produce.

Its tips include: washing hands after and before handling food and rinsing fruit and veg - especially from gardens, pre-cooking chicken before putting it on a barbeque, and cooking some frozen food like bean sprouts and berries before eating them.

"If you are buying fresh fruit and vegetables food businesses would have done everything they can to reduce the risk," the ministry said.

"[But] if the produce is not handled, prepared or stored correctly over summer, the pathogens can grow to levels that cause illness."

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