Kiwis love cooking fresh and tasty New Zealand pork for their families and friends. But like all food, you need to make sure your pork is prepared, cooked and stored safely.
To help you enjoy your favourite meals, New Zealand Pork has produced this handy guide to cooking and handling food.
For more information, you can also go to: https://www.mpi.govt.nz/food-safety/food-safety-for-consumers/tips-for-food-safety.
Your safe food guide
- Buy food from reliable outlets
- Choose fresh pork and vacuum-packed bacon and ham, plus other meat, seafood and poultry from chilled fridge cabinets
- Make sure tongs or gloves are used when you buy ham and bacon from the deli section
- Cooked ham is a ‘ready to eat’ product, whilst bacon must be cooked, therefore different tongs or gloves must be used
- Check ‘use by’ date before purchase
- Buy food you know you can use by the ‘use by’ date
- Avoid buying damaged meat packs or vacuum packages with broken seals
- Do not buy food from chilled or frozen food cabinets which are overfilled, messy or warm.
Taking food home
- When shopping, buy chilled and frozen food last
- Make sure fresh pork, other meat, seafood and poultry are well wrapped and cannot drip onto other food
- Take chilled or frozen food home as quickly as possible and put it in the fridge or freezer as soon as you get there
- A good idea is to keep a chilly bin or insulated food bag in your car and pack chilled and frozen food into it.
- Make sure the fridge temperature is cold enough – it should be 2-4°C
- Keep the fridge clean
- Put raw meat including bacon, seafood or poultry on a plate or in a container, cover loosely with plastic wrap and place on the lowest shelf so their juices cannot drip onto other food
- Separate the packages of meat to allow chilled air flow to circulate between them
- Put cooked meats including ham, seafood or poultry on a plate, cover loosely and place on a high shelf, away from raw meat
- Leave the protective packaging of vacuum packed ham and bacon intact until they are required. Once opened, place the ham or bacon on a plate and cover loosely.
- Make sure the food is ‘hard frozen’. This means that the freezer temperature is -18°C or lower
- Only freeze good quality food that is fresh
- Only freeze small quantities of food at a time
- Only use packaging recommended for freezers such as heavy-duty plastic bags. Remove the air and seal with a twist tie. Do not use thin plastic wrap, greaseproof or brown paper, unless the package is placed in a plastic bag
- Label and date all foods before freezing
- Use frozen pork, ham and bacon within their recommended storage times.
- Use clean knives and utensils and wash them thoroughly after every job
- Keep bench tops and all working surfaces, the fridge and the stove clean
- Use different containers and chopping boards for fresh and raw (e.g. fresh pork and bacon) and cooked foods (e.g. ham). If this is not possible, wash the cutting board thoroughly with hot water and detergent in between cutting raw and cooked food
- Do not allow pets near food or on work tops.
- Always wash your hands with hot soapy water for 20 seconds and dry for 20 seconds on a paper towel or clean dry towel before preparing food, after going to the toilet, after touching anything dirty, and after touching raw food
- Make sure you use only clean utensils (knives, spoons, dishes, cutting boards)
- Defrost frozen food in the fridge and make sure it is totally defrosted before you cook it. Allow about 12 hours for small cuts of meat and up to 36 hours for large roasts and ham on the bone
- Thawed meats should be cooked as soon as they are totally defrosted.
- Follow reliable recipes and use correct cooking methods
- Follow cooking times and heat the oven before you put the food in it
- Make sure food is cooked to 74°C and steaming hot right through to the middle, preferably by using a meat thermometer or until juices run clear
- When cooking food which is to be eaten later, cool it as quickly as possible, then cover and place in the fridge.
Using the microwave
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when cooking or defrosting food
- Follow the recommended standing times after taking food from the microwave
- If you are reheating food make sure you have reheated it thoroughly so it is piping hot in the middle. Preferably use a meat thermometer to check it is cooked to 74°C.
- Serve hot food piping hot
- Keep cold food in the fridge until just before it's needed
- Refrigerate leftover foods as soon as possible.
- Reheated foods, such as casseroles and stews should be served piping hot right through
- Food should never be reheated more than once.