Older people

Ngä kai tötika mo te hunga pakeke

Food safety advice for elderly people, including those who receive meals on wheels or buy frozen meals.

How to keep your food safe


  • always use clean utensils
  • use separate chopping boards and utensils when preparing raw foods (especially meat and poultry) and cooked or ready-to-eat foods
  • personal hygiene is vital to maintain food safety - always wash and dry your hands before handling food


  • cook food thoroughly to ensure any pathogens (disease-causing organisms) are killed
  • cook minced meat and sausages thoroughly (meat should not be pink) and cook poultry until the juices run clear.


  • keep food covered at all times unless it’s being prepared or eaten - especially in the fridge (this stops other foods dripping onto it).


  • keep raw and cooked foods separate in the fridge
  • defrost food in the fridge, not on the bench; room temperatures are ideal for pathogen growth
  • if you receive a warm meal (e.g. meals-on- wheels) and don’t intend to eat it straight away, keep it in the fridge not on the bench.

Safe reheating of frozen meals or leftovers

  • stir your food often to ensure it heats through evenly, especially when using the microwave
  • always leave microwaved food for the recommended stand time after heating so it finishes cooking
  • ensure the food is reheated thoroughly; it should be steaming hot right through to the middle
  • reheat leftovers only once, then throw any remainders out.

Also remember: buy food in small quantities so you can eat it all before it goes off. Buying lots when it’s on sale doesn’t pay off if you can’t eat it before it spoils and makes you sick.