Food safety for vulnerable populations

To reduce the risk of food poisoning (also known as food-related illness or foodborne illness), it is essential to follow safe food handling and cooking practices. Knowing how to properly cook, clean, chill and separate foods while handling and preparing them can help you to avoid complications from food poisoning.

Did you know?

Interactive guide

Practicing safe food handling at home and at the grocery store can help prevent food poisoning. Explore Health Canada's Safe Food Handling Interactive Guide to learn how you can safely handle food at home and at the grocery store.

4 Quick tips

  • Cook: Always cook food to the safe internal temperature. You can check this by using a digital food thermometer.
  • Clean: Wash your hands and surfaces often with warm, soapy water.
  • Chill: Always refrigerate food and leftovers promptly at 4°C or below.
  • Separate: Make sure to always separate your raw foods, such as meat and eggs, from cooked foods and vegetables.

Who is at risk?

Food safety is important to everyone; however, vulnerable populations such as seniors, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems are at an increased risk for food poisoning.

Pregnant Women

During pregnancy, both you and your unborn baby are at an increased risk for food poisoning because of all the changes taking place in your body. Learn more about safe food handling practices to help protect you and your baby.

Adults 60+

As we age it becomes harder for our immune systems to fight off harmful bacteria. While most people affected by food poisoning can recover completely, serious longer-term health effects, including conditions such as kidney failure and anaemia, are more common in older adults. Learn more about how safe food handling can help protect you from food poisoning.


People with Weakened Immune Systems

Some conditions, as well as treatments for certain illnesses, can affect your immune system. This can make it difficult to fight off harmful foodborne bacteria. This situation can lead to serious complications. Learn more about how safe food handling can help protect you from food poisoning.

Children Ages 5 and Under

Children ages five and under are at an increased risk of food poisoning (foodborne illness). This is because their immune systems are still developing and they are unable to fight off infection as well as adults can. Young children also produce less of the stomach acid that kills harmful bacteria, which makes it easier for them to get sick. Learn more about how safe food handling can help protect your children, and your family, from foodborne illness.


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