Food Safety at Home

In every situation where food is grown, produced and processed, the consumer is protected by strict government regulations except one - your kitchen. Learn how you can keep your family safe.

Throughout the entire food production system, many people work diligently to ensure that the food on your grocery store shelf is safe. And yet, an estimated 2.2 million cases of food-borne illness occur in Canada in every year. This costs over $1 billion in health care costs, legal fees and lost wages.

Most of these illnesses are caused by unsafe food preparation. It's a serious problem you can help to prevent by following some simple guidelines.

Prevent food borne illnesses during barbecuing season

Health Canada recommends following safe barbecueing practices to prevent foodborne illness.  Make burger patties thin to ensure the meat cooks all the way through. Use a food thermometer to check that the middle of the burger reaches 71°C (160°F). Insert the food thermometer through the side into the middle of the patty. Colour alone is not a reliable indicator that meat is safe to eat. Meat can turn brown before all bacteria are killed. 
Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold

  • Chill leftovers as soon as possible.
  • Put hot food directly in the refrigerator to cool.
  • Divide large amounts of food into smaller portions so it cools more quickly in the refrigerator.
  • Heat leftovers until hot (74°C or 165°F) before serving.

Avoid cross-contamination between raw and ready-to-eat foods

  • A salad that will be eaten without further heating should not be prepared with the same utensils that were used for raw meats, chicken or fish.
  • Never put cooked meat back on the unwashed plate or platter the raw meat was carried on earlier.
  • When shopping, bag meat and poultry separately from produce.
  • Store raw meats on the lowest shelf in the refrigerator so juices cannot drip onto foods that are ready to eat or may be eaten raw.

Cook meat to the recommended minimum temperature

  • Ground beef and pork: 71°C (160°F)
  • Ground poultry: 74°C (165°F)
  • Roast poultry: 85°C (185°F)
  • Stuffing cooked alone or in the bird: 74°C (165°F) 

Cleanliness is important in all aspects of food preparation

  • Rinse all fruits and vegetables thoroughly before cooking or eating.

More facts about food safety at home

Resources from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency