Something you ate? Episode 4: Protecting yourself

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Foodborne Illness Prevention Advice
Transcript - Foodborne Illness Prevention

Millions of Canadians get sick every year from food-borne illnesses caused by bacteria like Salmonella and E. coli. Many of these illnesses can be avoided

You can protect yourself and your loved ones by taking precautions when you handle, prepare and store your food.

Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water before and after you handle food. This helps prevent the spread of bacteria.

Be sure to cook foods thoroughly and follow the simple rule: keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot.

Always keep your raw meat, poultry and seafood separate from other foods in your grocery shopping cart, grocery bags and in your refrigerator.

Store raw meat, poultry, and seafood in a container or on a plate in your fridge so juices can't drip on other foods.

Wash fresh fruits and vegetables before cutting them. Clean counters and cutting boards before and after using them.

Follow cooking and storage instructions for all foods. Discard foods that are past their "best before" dates.

The most reliable way to tell that food is cooked to a temperature that will kill harmful bacteria is to use a food thermometer. Near the end of cooking, insert the thermometer probe into the thickest part of the meat being careful not to touch the bone as this will affect the accuracy of the thermometer reading. Consult food packaging or thermometer guide for the meat's safe internal temperature.

Always wash the thermometer probe with warm soapy water before checking another piece of meat or the same piece of meat.

Refrigerate or freeze perishable food within two hours of cooking. Freeze or eat leftovers within four days of cooking.

Always reheat leftovers until steaming hot before eating.

Keep refrigerators clean and at a temperature below 4 degrees Celsius or 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Freeze foods at or below minus 18 degrees Celsius or 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

Protect yourself and your loved ones. Remember to "Clean", "Separate", "Cook", and "Chill". Bon appétit!

A message from the Government of Canada.

Preventing foodborne illness

Anyone can get sick from contaminated food or water. But some people are more at risk for getting very sick from complications associated with foodborne illness. You are more at risk if you are

  • Younger than 2 years old
  • Older than 65 years old
  • Pregnant (greater risk is linked to certain types of foodborne illness, such as listeriosis)
  • Coping with a weakened immune system; for example, if you have a chronic condition such as diabetes, alcoholism or HIV/AIDS, or if you are taking chemotherapy or other drugs that suppress your immune system

Everyone can protect themselves by taking the following precautions, but this is especially important for those at greater risk.

General food safety tips

  • Everyone should practice general food safety precautions at all times:
  • Bacteria can grow in the danger zone between 4 °C and 60 °C (40 °F to 140 °F). Keep cold foods cold at or below 4 °C (40 °F) and keep hot foods hot at or above 60 °C (140 °F).
  • Place raw meat, poultry and seafood in containers on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. Use containers that are large enough to prevent raw juices from dripping onto other food or touching other food.
  • Keep raw food away from other food while shopping, storing, preparing and serving foods.
  • Wash fresh fruits and vegetables before eating them, clean counters and cutting boards and wash your hands regularly.
  • Read labels and follow cooking and storage instructions for all foods. Make sure to check the “best before” date, and if you find something on the shelf that has expired, let the store know.
  • Use warm soapy water to clean knives, cutting boards, utensils, your hands and any surfaces that have come in contact with food, especially meat and fish.
  • Refrigerate or freeze perishable food within two hours of cooking.
  • Freeze or consume leftovers within four days of cooking. Always reheat leftovers until steaming hot before eating.
  • Keep refrigerators clean and at a temperature below 4 °C (40 °F). Install a thermometer in your fridge to be sure.
  • Like many other harmful bacteria that could be in our food, E. coli bacteria are destroyed when food is cooked to a certain internal temperature. Use a digital food thermometer to measure the internal temperature of your food so that you are sure that it is cooked properly. You can’t tell by looking.
  • Cook your food to a safe internal temperature.
Safe internal temperature chart
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 (pieces)—chicken, turkey, duck 74°C (165°F)
Poultry (whole)— chicken, turkey, duck 85°C (185°F)
Ground meat and meat mixtures (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)

More food safety information

Visit the Government of Canada food safety portal to stay on top of food safety.

Health Canada has food safety information aimed at specific groups that are at greater risk for serious illness, including a chart that lists foods to avoid and safer alternatives to those foods.

Canadian Partnership for Consumer Food Safety Education provides information about food safety in the home.

Action on Weatherill Report Recommendations to Strengthen the Food Safety System: Final Report to Canadians describes changes made to the food safety system since 2008.

These links provide more detailed information about the tools we use to help us in our food safety work.

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