This page outlines the requirements, rules and guidelines for the safe preparation of food on commercial premises, on street stalls and other situations.
Food prepared in commercial premises needs to be prepared in a safe and hygienic way to prevent food poisoning and the spread of communicable diseases via food.
Food prepared at home
Most of the food you eat at home is prepared either by you or your family. By practising good food hygiene, you can prevent people from becoming ill, and prevent food from spoiling or becoming tainted. Food poisoning can make family and friends very ill, while spoiled or tainted food is money wasted.
Preparing safe food is easy. It just takes a little understanding of basic food hygiene principles.
Food premises need continual cleaning and sanitising to eliminate microorganisms that may contaminate food and lead to food poisoning.
Some areas, equipment and surfaces are more prone to contamination than others and will need more frequent cleaning and sanitation, and in some cases, specialised procedures.
For information about cleaning procedures and policies, dishwashing and cleaning agents, read our Cleaning - It's easy and important brochure from the related information section below.
Food poisoning is the general term applied to illnesses picked up from eating food or water contaminated with bacteria, viruses, protozoa, chemicals, or natural organic substances (such as green potato poisons).
The severity and duration of symptoms will vary depending on the illness involved. Symptoms may include:
- Abdominal cramps
The food responsible for the illness could have been consumed from 2 hours to several weeks earlier. Most people will simply experience discomfort and inconvenience, but food poisoning can be dangerous, particularly among the very young, very old, pregnant women and people already suffering from other illnesses.
What you should do if you suspect you have food poisoning
If you think you have food poisoning, you can contact us to discuss the situation but you should contact your GP first, especially if you think you need medication to relieve the symptoms.
A faecal sample may be requested to confirm the presence of food poisoning organisms and to identify which type of infection you have.
The Health Act 1956 lists certain infectious diseases that must be notified to the Medical Officer of Health who oversees public health in Otago. This allows authorities to watch for outbreaks and trends. The list includes diseases such as Salmonella and Campylobacter.
If you are diagnosed with a notifiable food poisoning infection, a health officer will contact you for an interview to try to establish the source of your infection and to help you prevent further spread of the disease.
If you have any food left that you think is the source of your illness, keep it in a sealed container in the fridge as it may be needed for testing to confirm your suspicions.
Exclusion from work or school
You may have to take time off from school or work until your symptoms pass and/or further faecal samples return clear tests. Each case will be considered individually and a decision on the length of exclusion from school or work will be based on the risk of spread of the infection.
You will need to take time off work if you work in:
- The food industry
- Custodial institutions
- Childcare centres.
Preparing safe food
- Protecting food from contamination by bacteria, poisons and other matter
- Preventing bacteria from multiplying to numbers which could result in food poisoning or spoilage
- Destroying any harmful bacteria by thorough cooking or processing.
Preparing and cooking a hāngi
Selling food cooked in a hāngi
Please read the Food Stalls - Events, Temporary and Fundraising fact sheet in the related information section so you are fully aware of your responsibilities for selling safe food. Please contact us if you have any questions.
- Clean - It's easy and important (PDF File, 54.9 KB | New window)
- Opening a New Food Premises (PDF File, 154.0 KB | New window)
- Preparing Safe Food to Eat (PDF File, 64.5 KB | New window)
- Food Grading Bylaw (Link | New window)
- Ministry of Primary Industries (Link | New window)
- SmartFoods (Link | New window)
- Consumer (Link to external website | New window)
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