Food Safety for the Summer Months

OTTAWA Ontario June 26, 2012 - Now that summer is here, Health Canada would like to remind Canadians of steps they can take to protect themselves from foodborne illnesses: clean, separate, cook and chill.

As the temperature rises, so does the risk of foodborne illness. Hot, humid weather creates the perfect conditions for the rapid growth of bacteria. Summer also means more people are cooking outside without easy access to refrigeration and washing facilities.

It is estimated that there are approximately 11 million cases of food-related illness in Canada every year. Many of these cases could be prevented by following proper food handling and preparation techniques.

To minimize the risks of foodborne illness, follow these four steps when handling and preparing food.

Step One - Clean: Wash hands and surfaces often to avoid the spread of bacteria

...Wash your hands with hot, soapy water for at least 20 seconds before handling food, and after handling raw meats or poultry, using the bathroom, touching pets or changing diapers.

...Always wash raw fruits and vegetables with clean water. You cannot tell whether foods carry surface bacteria by the way they look, smell or taste.

Step Two - Separate: Keep raw meats and poultry separate from cooked or ready-to-eat foods to avoid cross-contamination.

...When you pack a cooler for an outing, wrap uncooked meats and poultry securely, and put them on the bottom to prevent raw juices from dripping onto other foods.

...Wash all plates, utensils, and cutting boards that touched or held raw meat or poultry before using them again for other foods.

Step Three - Cook: Make sure you kill harmful bacteria by properly cooking food.

...Traditional visual cues like colour are not a guarantee that food is safe. Don=t guess! Take a digital instant-read food thermometer along to check when meat and poultry are safe to eat. Cooked foods are safe to eat when internal temperatures are:

71° C (160° F) for ground meat 74° C (165° F) for leftover food and boned and deboned poultry parts 85° C (185° F) for whole poultry Step Four - Chill: Keep cold food cold.

...Perishable foods that are normally in the refrigerator, such as luncheon meats, cooked meat, chicken, and potato or pasta salads, must be kept in an insulated cooler with freezer packs or blocks of ice to keep the temperature at 4° C (40° F).

...Put leftovers back in the cooler as soon as you are finished eating.

...The simple rule is: When in doubt, throw it out.

How to: Be Food Safe Canada is a 2 minute video that demonstrates 4 safe food handling practices for the home cook. This video is based on the Be Food Safe Canada campaign demonstrating the 4 core safe food handling.

More information on summer food safety is available from:

Health Canada's Summer Food Safety Tips

Health Canada's Barbecue Safety Tips

Government of Canada's Healthy Canadians Portal

It's Your Health on Summer Food Safety

It's Your Health on Hamburger Disease