Survey of domestic food handling practices in New Zealand.Int J Food Microbiol. 2007 Jul 15; 117(3):306-11.IJ
The purpose of this survey was to obtain information on the domestic meat and poultry handling practices of New Zealanders in order to support the development of quantitative risk models, as well as providing data to underpin food safety campaigns to consumers. A sample of 1000 New Zealand residents, over 18 years of age, were randomly selected from the electoral roll and asked to participate in a national postal food safety study during 2005. Three hundred and twenty six respondents completed and returned questionnaires containing usable answers, and most of these respondents 'always' prepared the main meal within the household. The majority of meat (84.6%) and poultry (62.9%) purchased by New Zealanders was fresh (rather than frozen), and most consumers (94.4%) claimed that the time taken from food selection to reaching their home was 1 h or less. The majority (approximately 64%) of fresh meat and poultry was frozen in the home and the most favoured method of thawing was at room temperature for up to 12 h. The most common time period for storing cooked or raw meat and poultry in domestic refrigerators was up to 2 days. Most survey respondents preferred their meat and poultry to be cooked either medium or well done. The most popular cooking method for chicken was roasting or baking, while most respondents preferred to pan-fry steak/beef cuts, minced beef or sausages/hamburgers. The potential for undercooking was greatest with pan-fried steak with 19.8% of respondents preferring to consume this meat raw or rare. In answer to questions relating to food handling hygiene practices, 52.2% of respondents selected a hand washing sequence that would help prevent cross contamination. However, it was estimated that 41% and 28% of respondents would use knives and kitchen surfaces respectively in a manner that could allow cross contamination. The data in this survey are self-reported and, particularly for the hygiene questions, respondents may report an answer that they perceive as being correct rather than reflecting their actual behaviour. Nevertheless, the data on food processing, transport, storage and cooking preferences represent useful inputs into the assessment of food safety along the meat and poultry food chains.