Foodborne illness, or food poisoning, occurs when you become ill from eating contaminated foods.
Some of the most common causes of foodborne illnesses in New Zealand include infections from the bacteria staphylococcus, shigella, campylobacter, salmonella and listeria, and from the virus known as norovirus.
The most common symptoms of foodborne illnesses are stomach upsets, diarrhoea and stomach cramps. Some also cause tingling and fever.
How to avoid catching foodborne illness
Follow these simple rules every time you prepare food:
- Clean – wash hands and surfaces often.
- Separate – avoid cross-contamination. Keep raw meat (and platters that have had raw meat on them) apart from cooked foods.
- Cook – use a food thermometer to be sure meat and poultry are safely cooked (60 ºC or above) and eat within 2 hours.
- Cover and chill – refrigerate or freeze promptly (as soon as hot food has stopped steaming).
Use clean water
Making sure we have clean water for drinking and cooking is equally important as having clean and safe food. Many families are not on city or town water supplies and collect their water in tanks or source water from bores or waterways. There are some important steps to take to make sure such water is clean and safe to use.
Water collection tanks
Tank water may be collected from:
- rain off the roof
- natural water, for example, from streams or lakes
- a bore (a deep hole in the ground)
- a spring.
Water supplies from all these sources can very easily become unsafe eg:
- Roof water may be corrosive or may become contaminated with ash, dust, agricultural spraying or bird or possum droppings.
- River or stream water and shallow bore water and springs can become contaminated from many sources such as animals, algae, chemicals, or be discoloured and unpleasant to taste.
- Bore water can be hard and corrosive.
If you use any of these sources for your water, make sure you do regular checks of your water quality.
Food safety for consumers Ministry for Primary Industries