Food safety in the home
Most foodborne illnesses (up to 97%) result from the way individual consumers store or prepare food.
Safe food handling
You can help prevent food poisoning by making sure you follow the four principles of food safety: clean, separate, cook and chill.
- Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water before and after handling food.
- Thoroughly clean and sanitize countertops, cutting boards, utensils and dishes after each use. Do this with hot soapy water or a bleach sanitizer.
- Bacteria can be carried in raw meat juices, so keep raw food away from other food.
- Place raw meat, poultry and seafood in containers on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator.
- Use separate equipment and utensils such as knives and cutting boards for handling raw foods.
- Clean and then sanitize counter tops, cutting boards and utensils with a mild bleach solution before and after food preparation.
- Keep hot foods at or above 60°C (140°F).
- Bring sauces, soups and gravy to a boil when you reheat them.
- Stir or rotate the food in the microwave halfway through the cooking time to eliminate any cold spots.
- Use a digital food thermometer to make sure cooked foods reach safe temperatures. (See chart.) You can't tell by looking.
- Bacteria can grow in the danger zone - between 4°C and 60°C (40°F to 140°F).
- Do not keep food in the danger zone for longer than two hours.
- Refrigeration at or below 4°C (40°F) slows down most bacterial growth, while freezing at or below -18°C (0°F) can stop bacteria growth completely.
- Refrigeration and freezing won't kill bacteria. Only proper cooking kills bacteria.
Source: Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Food Temperature Beef, veal and lamb (pieces and whole cuts) - medium-rare 63°C (145°F) Beef, veal and lamb (pieces and whole cuts) - medium 71°C (160°F) Beef, veal and lamb (pieces and whole cuts) - well done 77°C (170°F) Pork (pieces and whole cuts) 71°C (160°F) Poultry (e.g. chicken, turkey, duck) - pieces 74°C (165°F) Poultry - whole 85°C (185°F) Ground meat and meat mixtures (e.g. burgers, sausages, meatballs, meatloaf, casseroles) - beef, veal, lamb and pork 71°C (160°F) Ground meat and meat mixtures - poultry 74°C (165°F) Egg dishes 74°C (165°F) Others (hot dogs, stuffing and leftovers) 74°C (165°F)
For more information
- Canadian Partnership for Consumer Food Safety Education