Food Safety Minister urges Kiwis to be vigilant with food safety this festive season

Many of us are stocking up on our favourite food for the festive season, but it's coming with a warning. 

Food poisoning peaks in summer and officials are urging New Zealander to be vigilant. 

Ponsonby Countdown's store manager Paul Maxwell says staff is racing to keep shelves filled for Christmas.

"Strawberries - everyone wants them on their pavlova and ham, everyone wants a hot ham," Maxwell told Newshub.

But it's not just indigestion people need to be wary of during the gorging season - it's the risk of food poisoning. 

One hundred thousand Kiwis get sick from home-cooked food each year - and it peaks in the summer months.

Nigel French, Professor of Food Safety at Massey University, says it's not uncommon.

"It's not uncommon to get a few thousand cases over this month, it's been an average of 5000 to 6000."

Officials warn food poisoning can be serious and can even lead to hospitalisation. 

"In summer we tend to use more BBQ's and maybe we are not cooking meat as well through," Minister for Food Safety Dr Ayesha Verrall told Newshub.

The Ministry for Primary Industries launched an awareness campaign on Monday, aiming to reduce the risk. 

"The key message is cook, clean and chill," Verrall said.

And that applies to one of Verrall's favourite Christmas dishes - rice.

"Rice is one of those things that can be quite high-risk," Chef Shaun Clouston said.

Clouston's advice is to seal it off and only leave it in the fridge for a short period.

"Wouldn't leave it for more than a day or two," he said.

Wellington shoppers were confident their summer food wouldn't make them sick. 

"Refrigeration is in order and also just basic hand hygiene," one person told Newshub.

"Everyone's food-safe now, everyone should know the rules," another said. 

The Food Safety Minister hopes those rules are followed this summer.