Food safety top tips

You may be familiar with the four 'C' rules of food hygiene – clean, cook, cover and chill – but, like many of us, there might be other areas where your food hygiene skills need a bit of a refresher.

About 200,000 New Zealanders become sick with food poisoning each year. Many of the ways you store, prepare and cook food increases your risk of being one of those people who get sick with disease-causing bacteria like Campylobacter, E-coli and Salmonella.

Here’s our top tips for making sure the food you eat doesn’t send you running to the bathroom with abdominal (tummy) cramps, diarrhoea (runny poos) or vomiting (being sick):

1. Never wash raw chicken

Chicken is the main offender for spreading serious tummy bugs. It needs careful handling when it's raw. You might be great at remembering to wash your hands before and after touching raw chicken, but do you get carried away and wash the chicken before you prepare it? This common practice is a big no-no. Washing chicken in your kitchen sink can lead to contamination of your work surfaces, cloths and cooking utensils.

2. Store raw meat at the bottom of your fridge

Bacteria can be found on any raw meat – not just chicken. Raw beef, pork, lamb and seafood are all possible sources of contamination. To ensure any meat juices don’t drip onto other food, raw meat should be covered and stored at the bottom of your fridge.

3. Separate raw and ready-to-eat food

Make sure your ready-to-eat food, such as fruit and vegetables, are kept well away from raw meat. This includes in your supermarket trolley – don’t put that packet of mince on top of your apples!

4. Use a different plate for raw and cooked meat

Having a BBQ? Make sure the plate you’ve carried the meat to the grill with goes back inside to get washed and that you use a clean plate to serve the cooked meat.

5. Use different coloured chopping boards 

Use separate chopping boards for different types of food. Invest in coloured chopping boards or paint a splash of colour on the ones you already have, such as red for raw meat and green for fruit and vegetables.

6. Use different knives to cut meat

Remember to use one knife to cut meat and another to chop up your veggies and bread.


  1. Foodborne disease in New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries, NZ, 2016
Credits: Health Navigator Editorial Team .