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Canadian Public Health Association

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.
BLEACH SANITIZER Combine 5 ml (1 tsp) of bleach with 750 ml (3 cups) of water. After cleaning, spray sanitizer on the surfaces and let stand briefly. Rinse with plenty of clean water, and air dry or use clean towels.


  • 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.
    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)
    Source: Canadian Food Inspection Agency

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