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Food Safety



Food Safety

food Safety


Food Act 2014

To see your obligations and responsibilities under this Act - click here


Gary Mitchell


We are incredibly lucky to have as a member of the Association, Gary Mitchell, Ribbonwood Country House.  Gary is a qualified Chef, has studied Food Safety and achieved the NZQA unit standards.  Gary was to present at our 2020 May Conference (cancelled due to Covid-19) and has allowed us to share his information.

Gary Mitchell

Food Safety Information



Before you Cook


The First Basic Steps:

Cook, Separate, Clean and Chill

  • Ensure food is cooked correctly and at the correct temperature.
  • Separate foods to avoid cross contamination - especially high risk foods like chicken.
  • Make sure your chopping boards, pots, pans and utensils are all clean and sanitised not to mention washing your hands 
  • Lastly make sure the food is chilled and put away in the fridge.


If you have a buffet with chilled or cooked food it should not be out longer that 2 hours and that is with appropriate heating for example a bain marie or a chiller display. If, for example you are making a large pot of soup - put into smaller containers to chill quicker and wait till it is cooler before putting it in to the fridge as if it is still hot it will raise the temperature of the fridge and the other items in it. This will put them back in the danger zone. More about the danger zone below.




Basic Food Safety

Personal Hygiene

How to keep you and your guests safe:

  • Hair should be tied up (Food production areas need hair nets. Some places do require beard protectors too)
  • No jewellery
  • Wear clean clothes
  • All wounds should be covered
  • Nails - short and clean
  • Wear shoes
      • Wash and sanitise your hands.

Personal Hygiene

Personal hygiene



Danger Zone

The Danger Zone for any high risk / cooked food is between 4 and 60 degrees so this should be avoided at all times. 

Food should be chilled 0 - 4 degrees - your fridge temperature should be at 4 degrees or lower so check it today. Once the temperature of the food goes above 5 degrees, bacteria begins to multiply and the warmer it gets the faster it multiplies. The only thing that kills bacteria is heat above 60 degrees (or antibacterial sprays on surfaces) but for food it needs to be heated / cooked. Hence, you need to ensure food is cooked correctly and heated correctly.  For example, when heating pies or quiches make sure the temperature in the middle is above 60 degrees - not just the outside.  This is why food should not be stored in bain maries for more than 2 hours.

Do not mix new food in with the old food.

It is better to make sure the temperature is above 66 degrees as a couple of bacteria types can survive up to 66 degrees. When I am making cheese and pasturising the milk I raise the temperature of the milk to 72 degrees and hold it for about 2 minutes.


  • Freezer temperature minus 18
  • Fridge temperature 0 - 4 degrees
  • Heat food to more than 66 degrees
  • Keep food out of the danger zone



Temperature Danger


Chopping Boards

If you don’t have colour coded chopping boards I thoroughly recommend them. This is a great way to avoid cross contamination. You can purchase these in retail stores but some better ones are available at commercial wholesale suppliers such as Southern Hospitality – it’s a great investment. Easy to scrub and put through the dishwasher.

Handy tip - put a damp dishcloth under them to stop them moving around - this is good general safety practice too and saves on any cut fingers!.

Chopping Boards

Fridge Storage

Here are some basic tips to accompany the pictures attached.

  1. Cover all your food. Invest in some plastic containers with lids rather than using glad wrap or cling film. These plastic containers can be washed and reused – a good sustainable practice. Covering your food helps prevent it drying out, keeps it fresher and avoids that food tainting other foods in the fridge or vice versa.
    1. Make sure you date the food container. Use a black marker pen which will rub off easy with a tissue, masking tape or use the rolls of colour coded dates available from the wholesalers. It's good to know when you opened that can of whatever or cooked that casserole or rice! (Rice and gravies are high risk.)
  2. Store cooked food above raw food. If you have a chicken defrosting in the fridge make sure its in a container near the bottom and others foods are above it. If the raw meat should drip blood onto the cooked food and its not covered, then it destined for the bin. It will be cross contaminated.
  3. Make sure you wipe your fridge out regularly.


fridge storage

fridge safety

food safety



Personal Hygiene is very important

We touch our face 25 times an hour – apparently. Not to mention scratching our heads as well. All these can cross contaminate food so very important to tie your hair back, wash your hair and avoid scratching.


Remember to clean all pots, pans and utensils

Anything that comes into contact with the food must be sterilised, Cook and reheat food properly, be careful not to cross contaminate foods and chill quickly.


Best Before Dates and Expiry Dates

These are two slightly different things. Food will have one or the other depending on what it is. What the manufacturer is saying is that food will be OK to eat (with in reason) after the BBD but they cannot guarantee the quality. So foods like sauces that might have some vinegar will be a preservative but it might not be as good quality one year after the BBD. If you have food that has an expiry date – then its definitely a no go! It needs to go in the bin!





If you google Food Safety Sustainability there is much interesting reading on the internet. Most seems to be focused overseas and relating back to the primary industries such as dairy and agriculture.

My thoughts come back to us and what we can do at home so here are some musings you might find interesting or are doing already:

  1. Use plastic containers with lids that last longer and can be washed and used more than once such as sistema type products or take away containers rather than sing cling film
  2. Buy a bread maker and make your own this will reduce the number of plastic bags and the aroma is fantastic
  3. Avoid using individual portions of jams and butter etc. Maybe make your own and put into small dishes / ramekins
  4. Get your own chooks. Nothing nicer than a free range egg and chooks are good for eating scraps
  5. Compost as much as you can and put it back into the earth
  6. Grow your own vegies, fruit and herbs - even a small garden can produce well. Use pots and hanging baskets as well
  7. Buy in bulk and freeze excess down
  8. Buy larger containers or milk and decant into sterile bottles for guests rather than individual cartons.

Fortunately for us at Ribbonwood we have 18 acres and we have our own house cow who produces beautiful creamy A2 Jersey milk which we make butter and cheese etc from.

We have a large vegie garden with fruit trees and herbs, Chooks for eggs, make our own preserves, chutneys, bread, cakes, biscuits / biscotti for the rooms, crackers - you name it. It is like the good life here.

Our house was a new build nearly 7 years ago so has many eco friendly and sustainable features such as gas hot water in the guest wing and solar hot water in the owners wing. More insulation than you can poke a stick at, rain water collection for feeding to the stock and watering the garden to name a few.

Every little bit helps !

ribbonwood garden

ribbonwood garden

Ribbonwood garden

ribbonwood garden

Food Safety

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