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Handle with Care, How to Avoid Food Poisoning

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  1. Did you know...?
    • Food poisoning is caused by bacteria which thrive in warm, moist food.
    • Bacteria are usually killed by hot temperatures and prevented from multiplying in cold temperatures.

  2. Caution Foods
    These foods can be unsafe if they are not stored or handled properly.
    • raw or cooked meat, poultry, fish, dressings, salads and gravies;
    • processed meats (e.g., balogna, hot dogs, ham, sausages and hamburgers) open vacuum-packed or canned meats, fish or combination dinners (e.g., frozen dinners); and
    • meat sandwich spreads, cooked vegetables and cereals, potato salad;
    • milk and milk products (except most cheeses), custards and puddings.

  3. Safe Foods
    These foods may be safely kept at room temperature because food poisoning bacteria do not grow in them:
    • nuts and peanut butter, jam, honey, syrop and candy; bread, crackers, cookies and cake; margarine; mustard and ketchup
    • raw, cooked and dry fruit; canned fish and meat (unopened); raw vegetables; and
    • dry cereals, powdered milk (until reconstituted), hard cheese (short time).

  4. Tips to Preventing Food Poisoning
    • ALWAYS wash your hands thoroughly before handling or preparing foods. Many stomach upsets (cramps and diarrhea) which may be attributed to intestinal flu are characteristic symptoms of food-borne bacterial infections or intoxications.
    • ALWAYS keep hot foods hot (at 60°C/140°F or higher). ALWAYS keep cold food cold (4°C/40°F or lower). ALWAYS cook foods thoroughly.
    • Food to be cooled should be placed in shallow pans to allow rapid cooling, or cooled by placing the container in a bath of cold running water and stirring occasionally.
    • ALWAYS refrigerate leftovers within one hour. Serve them cold or thoroughly reheated.
    • ALWAYS separate stuffing from leftover cooked poultry before refrigerating.
    • NEVER buy frozen foods which have been thawed.
    • NEVER re-freeze foods which have been completely thawed or held at refrigerator temperature for more than two days.
    • NEVER eat foods which have become mouldy. Many moulds are toxic or contain toxins which may be released when heated.
    • NEVER consume foods from bulging, leaking or rusting cans. Never consume foods from cans whose contents spurt out, are bubbly, off colour or off odor.
    • Shellfish should ONLY be obtained from approved sources or licensed suppliers.
    • Every year, thousands of Canadians become ill because they have eaten contaminated food. If in doubt, throw it out!
    • Cutting boards that are used for raw meat, fish or poultry should NOT be used for cooked or ready-to-eat foods until they are thoroughly washed and sanitized (with diluted bleach).
    • Sandwiches for a picnic should be made the evening before, wrapped and refrigerated. Carry them in an insulated bag or wrapped in newspaper and add ice packs, if possible.
    • Remember that most food-borne illneses occur because of individual negligence in the preparation and handling of food.
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