Date: May 22, 2019

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4 Safe Food Handling Practices

This page was reviewed or revised on Thursday, July 21, 2016 8:45 AM

Food safety at home is very important. The 4 easy steps of Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill will help prevent harmful bacteria from making your family sick.

1. Clean

  • Have soap and paper towels at each sink at home.
  • Wash your hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds:
    • Before and after handling food
    • After using the bathroom
    • Playing with pets, etc.
  • Food-borne outbreaks have been linked to raw fruits and vegetables.
    • Use a clean produce scrub brush and cool running water to wash your fruit and vegetables.
  • WASH your cutting board and knife in hot soapy water after cutting up chicken and raw meat, and before using the utensils for other foods. RINSE thoroughly in warm water and SANITIZE.
  • Use a recommended sanitizer solution: 1 ounce of (28 ml) bleach per gallon (4.5 L) of water.Bacteria can live on kitchen towels, sponges and cloths. Launder these often. 

2. Separate

  • Keep raw meat, poultry and fish (and their juices) away from cooked or ready-to-eat foods. Store raw meat, poultry and fish on the lowest shelf of your refrigerator to prevent raw juices from dripping onto other food.
  • Use 1 cutting board for raw meat, poultry and seafood, and another for your ready-to-eat food.
  • Change or wash the plate you used for raw meat before you put cooked meat on it.
  • Store chemicals away from food. Label and identify all household chemical containers.

3. Cook

  • Use a probe thermometer to ensure food is cooked to the proper internal temperature.
  • Food is safely cooked when it reaches an internal temperature high enough to kill harmful bacteria. 
  • When reheating food, such as soups, sauces and gravies, bring them to a rolling boil. 
  • Heat other leftover foods to 74°C (165°F). 
  • Use the "Internal Cooking Temperatures" chart to tell when your food is safely cooked. 

Using a probe thermometer

  • Insert a probe thermometer in the thickest part of the meat in several spots. A probe thermometer should not touch bone inside the meat.
  • Check the internal temperature of food for at least 15 seconds.
  • Always clean and sanitize the probe thermometer after you use it and before you use it to check a different food item. This will prevent cross contamination.
  • Probe thermometers require calibration. That means adjusting the thermometer to make sure it reads the most accurate temperature.

4. Chill

  • Keep your fridge at 4°C (40°F) and your freezer at -18°C (0°F).
  • Divide leftovers into small shallow containers for quick cooling in the refrigerator.
  • Do not overcrowd the refrigerator. Cool air must circulate to maintain a proper temperature, and keep food cold.
  • Check the temperature in your refrigerator with a thermometer.
  • Thaw food in the fridge, under cold running water, or in the microwave. Do not thaw food on the kitchen counter. At room temperature, bacteria can grow on the outer surface of the food before the inside thaws.
  • Marinate your food in the fridge.

For more information, visit the Canadian Partnership for Consumer Food safety Education.

Links:

Healthy Canadians Website - Food safety Tips Interactive Guides

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