Safe Food Handling

There are 4 essential steps in food safety that everyone should follow to minimize the risk of a food-borne illness:

1. CLEAN hands and surfaces frequently and thoroughly.

Bacteria can spread throughout the kitchen on anything that comes into contact with food. These items include your hands, cutting boards, knives, dish cloths, sponges, and counter tops.

Remember to always wash your hands with soap before preparing or serving food and after = Handling raw meat, poultry, and seafood = Using the washroom = Sneezing/coughing = Handling garbage or money

Remember to first wash the food preparation area and all utensils with soapy water then sanitize with a chlorine bleach solution after preparing each food item and before beginning the next one.

Methods of preparing sanitizing solution: = 1 tablespoon chlorine bleach to 1 gallon of water. = 2 teaspoons chlorine bleach to 1 Litre of water. = 45 mL chlorine bleach to 11.5 L of water Allow 1 minute of contact time to sanitize Never add chlorine bleach to washwater

2. SEPARATE raw from cooked or ready-to-eat foods.

Cross-contamination occurs when bacteria from raw foods such as raw meat, poultry, and seafood come into contact with ready-to-eat foods such as salads, fruit, etc. It is important to keep these foods separate during purchasing, storage, preparation, and serving. This can be achieved by using separate plastic bags at the store, by storing and thawing raw foods on the bottom shelves of refrigerators so as to prevent meat juice contamination, by using separate cutting boards and by serving cooked foods on clean plates.

3. COOK thoroughly. In order to kill harmful bacteria that cause food-borne illnesses, foods must be cooked for a certain time at an adequately high temperature. To determine the internal temperature of food, a meat thermometer can be used. Other visual indicators can be considered if no thermometer is available. For example: cook meat until the juices run clear (no blood), cook eggs until the yolk and white are firm, and cook fish until it flakes easily with a fork.

Remember that reheating is also important. Always reheat food to its original cooking temperature and bring sauces and soups to a boil.

4. CHILL. Keep it cool.

Keeping a refrigerator at 4°C/40°F or colder and a freezer at -18°C/0°F or colder slows the growth of micro-organisms and therefore reduces the risk of food-borne illness. A refrigerator thermometer should be used to check the temperature and can be purchased inexpensively at hardware/department stores.

Prepared foods and leftovers should be refrigerated within 2 hours and separate large quantities of food into small, shallow containers for quicker cooling.

Remember to not over-fill a refrigerator as this impedes air circulation. Also, do not thaw frozen foods at room temperature. Foods can be thawed in a refrigerator, in a cold-water bath, or in a microwave oven.

For more information visit  Toronto Public Health 

General Food Safety Tips from Health Canada


See also Formula Feeding Your Baby