Handle with Care, How to Avoid Food PoisoningThis information is also available in PDF format.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.