Safe Food Handling

Separate CUTTING BOARD AND MEAT CopyDid you know that 4 million Canadians get sick from food-related illness each year? Symptoms usually include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain and fever. Symptoms can start within hours after eating the contaminated food, or sometimes not until days or even weeks later.

Everyone is at risk, but the following people are most vulnerable:

  • Pregnant women
  • Children under the age of 5 years
  • People over the age of 60 years
  • People with weakened immune systems

Although most people fully recover, food poisoning can result in serious complications. You can protect yourself and your loved ones by taking simple, yet effective, steps when you handle, store, prepare and shop for food:

  • Separate – make sure to always separate your raw food, such as meat and eggs, from cooked foods, fruits and vegetables to avoid cross-contamination. Store raw meat on the lower shelf in the fridge so juices don’t drip down onto other foods.
  • Clean – wash your hands, kitchen surfaces, utensils, and reusable shopping bags often with warm soapy water to eliminate bacteria. Use a clean cutting board if you are cutting raw meat, then vegetables.
  • Cook – always cook food to a safe internal temperature, using a digital thermometer. Be especially careful with ground meat patties!
  • Chill – always refrigerate food and leftovers within two hours. Temperature inside your fridge should be set at 4 degrees C or lower. The best ways to thaw meats are in the fridge, the microwave or in cold water…NOT on the counter. And the best way to store leftovers is to put it in the fridge as soon as possible…bacteria can start to grow within two hours on the counter.

Check out these handy resources:
Safe Internal Cooking Temperatures Chart
Safe Food Storage Chart
Safe Food Handling - Interactive Guide