The last date of the Year of the Dog will fall on 17 February 2007. Families may celebrate the arrival of the Year of the Pig by visiting the New Year Fairs or shopping around after the family reunion dinner.
During the New Year days, Chinese will follow the custom of putting up well wishing slogans and flowers such as peach blossom or peony at homes or in work places. In addition, they will buy or prepare new year snacks and delicacies with good omens such as new year cake, deep-fried dumplings, glutinous rice dumplings, abalone and preserved pork for serving guests and families, so that everybody will be blessed with a good start in the new year.
While purchasing or preparing new year foods, the public are advised to observe the following food safety tips:
- Purchase festive foods from reputable retail outlets;
- Buy sweetened lotus seeds and pistachio with natural colour and avoid those looking extraordinarily white because they may have been bleached with chemicals;
- Avoid buying melon seeds that are too glossy as they may contain mineral oil, which may cause gastrointestinal discomfort;
- Check the expiry date before buying any prepackaged festive items like puddings, sesame balls and sweets. Make sure the packaging is intact;
- Note the hygienic condition of the shop and the food containers and the hygiene practices of the staff, when buying unpackaged items like crispy triangles, sweetened dried fruits and melon seeds.
- After purchase, pre-cooked foods like puddings should be stored in the refrigerator as soon as possible and be consumed before the "Use by" date shown on the packages;
- Fried festive foods such as sesame balls and crispy triangles should be kept in air-tight containers and stored in the refrigerator or in a cool, dry place.
- Use a dehulling machine for melon seeds to avoid any contact between the mouth and the hulls;
- Soak and clean thoroughly dried seafood and specialties, such as dried shrimps, before cooking. Discard the water used for soaking;
- Keep cold dishes in the refrigerator and only take them out at the time of consumption. Foods to be eaten hot should be cooked just before mealtime; early preparation is not recommended;
- Stop eating and discard puddings if found mouldy or with an abnormal taste. Abnormal taste indicates that the puddings have perished due to improper or prolonged storage;
- As dishes for New Year's Eve family reunions and foods for the second day of the New Year tend to be abundant, any leftovers should be refrigerated and reheated thoroughly before consumption.
Besides paying attention to food safety, we should also maintain a balanced diet. Exercise regularly, and take at least 2 servings of fruits and 3 servings of vegetables every day. Avoid eating too much New Year food with high sugar, high fat and high cholesterol content.