3 Mar 2021

Free knives prove to be super-sharp prompting warning

9:09 am on 3 March 2021

A chef says Kiwis need to keep a keen mind when they're slicing dinner with the flood of super-sharp knives given out in a supermarket promotion.

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Photo: Foodstuffs

New World's SMEG knife giveaway was a massive success, promoting a frenzy of people chomping at the bit to get their hands on one of the Italian-brand blades made from German steel.

More than 1.2 million knives were dished out during the three-month promotion - with stickers given out according to how much people spent at the supermarket that could be redeemed for the products.

People begged for stickers on social media, they were hawked on TradeMe, and there were howls of complaints to the Commerce Commission from those who missed out when the supermarket ran out of stock and the promotion ended.

It was a sharp idea - but so were the blades - very sharp.

Pip from Wellington was cutting an avocado recently when it sliced halfway through her finger to the bone.

"It didn't really hurt because the knives are so sharp it actually did a very clean cut.

"I looked down and realised that it was actually very deep, so I showed the cut to my husband who looked at it and said 'no I think that's going to need stitching', and so we went to [the emergency department]."

ACC figures for three months from November show there were 23 claims for knife injuries where the word 'Smeg' and 'knife promotion' were included in the non-mandatory field to describe the accident.

Pip said she was lucky not to have severed tendons or ligaments, and was still nervous using the blades.

She knows quite a few others that have ended up at the pointy end of them.

"I have heard of quite a few people that have cut themselves on these knives as well.

"I think maybe they're such good quality, we're not used to such sharp knives."

At the restaurant Logan Brown, owner Steve Logan has some pointers for amateurs.

Logan Brown, owner Steve Logan.

Logan Brown, owner Steve Logan. Photo: RNZ / Hamish Cardwell

He said for starters, give yourself plenty of space to work, put a damp cloth under your chopping board to secure it, then choose the right sized knife for the job.

"The hand that's holding the thing you're cutting - you turn it into a bit of a claw so all your fingers are behind your knuckles - and you keep the knife outside those knuckles.

"When you cut you cut on an angle slightly away from your hand."

It may seem counter-intuitive, but Logan said a sharper blade was less risky because you have more control.

"Having a sharp knife is the safest thing because ... that means you've got less pressure you need to put on the knife to get it through whatever you're cutting."

He said New Zealanders could have a gung-ho attitude towards safety and needed to sharpen up.

Logan Brown prep chef Josh said the best thing to do was to slow down and focus.

Logan Brown prep chef Josh.

Logan Brown prep chef Josh. Photo: RNZ / Hamish Cardwell

"Go slowly, learn what you're doing, then, once you feel confident in that you can slowly pick up the pace.

"And then you're chopping an onion in 30 seconds."

New World's owner Foodstuffs said in a statement that knives were sharp, that was kind of the point, and it encouraged customers to use all sharp objects appropriately and safely.

More information about knife safety can be found on WorkSafe's website.