Food safety is an important issue for Canadians. We can all play a role in making sure the food we put on our tables is safe to eat by learning how to handle and prepare it with care.
High-risk groups such as seniors, people with a weakened immune system, and pregnant women should also take additional precautions to protect their health.
The information in this section will help you improve food safety in your kitchen and reduce the risk of foodborne illness. You'll find safety tips on cleaning, cooking, chilling, and preventing cross-contamination while handling and preparing a variety of foods such as meat, poultry, seafood, fruits, and vegetables.
Choose a topic
- Tips for vulnerable populations
- General food safety tips
- Meat, poultry, fish and seafood
- Fruits and vegetables
- Milk and dairy alternatives
- Seasonal food safety
Tips for vulnerable populations
Food safety for vulnerable populations
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.
Both you and your unborn baby are at an increased risk for food poisoning. Protect yourself and your baby by following some simple rules.
Food safety information for children ages 5 & under
Children ages 5 and under are at an increased risk of food poisoning (foodborne illness) because their immune systems are still developing and they are unable to fight off infection as well as adults can.
Food safety for First Nations
Food safety is important. If you eat or serve food that hasn't been properly handled, you and your family could get sick. You could have stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever. Protect your health, and the health of your family and community: handle food safely.
General food safety tips
How to read food date labels and packaging
Information about dates on pre-packaged food is a valuable source of information.
Common allergens in food
Allergens can cause a reaction in your respiratory system, stomach and intestines, skin or cardiovascular system. The symptoms of allergic reactions vary in type and severity, from mild skin irritations and hives to breathing difficulties and loss of consciousness.
Food safety tips - interactive guide
Explore Health Canada's Safe Food Handling tips to learn how you can safely handle food at home and at the grocery store.
Eating a nutritious and balanced diet with plenty of variety is one of the best ways to protect your health. While the food we eat in Canada is among the safest in the world, some raw foods and their juices can be contaminated by bacteria, viruses and parasites (foodborne pathogens) which can make you sick. Every year, thousands of Canadians get food poisoning. Storing your food properly is one of the key things you can do to protect yourself and your family from foodborne illness.
With the renewed popularity of seasonal, local eating, and the desire to be more environmentally sustainable, many people are looking to home canning (also known as home bottling) to preserve food for later use.
Many people enjoy eating leftovers from holiday festivities, family gatherings or from dining out. However, leftovers need to be properly handled.
Because many fresh produce products are not cooked before being consumed, it is very important to handle these products safely and prevent them from being contaminated with harmful microorganisms.
Pesticides and food safety
To be healthy, we need to eat a variety of foods, especially fresh fruits and vegetables. Pesticides play an important role in making sure there is enough food for everyone, by protecting food and crops from pests.
Meat, poultry, fish and seafood
Canning and bottling of seafood
Home canning and bottling of seafood, such as fish and shellfish, like lobster, clams and whelks, is a popular activity for Canadians in Atlantic Canada. Home canning and bottling allows people to enjoy their favourite seafood when it is not in season or when it cannot be harvested.
Canada's food supply is considered one of the safest in the world. Still, if you eat undercooked ground beef it may result in a type of food poisoning that is commonly called hamburger disease. You can minimize your risk by handling and cooking raw ground beef properly.
Fruits and vegetables
Fresh herbs are often used to season and flavour dishes. Many people grow or buy herbs that are fresh and have not been dried. Popular types of fresh herbs include rosemary, oregano, basil and thyme. Canada's Food Guide recommends a diet rich in fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy diet.
Fiddleheads are the curled, edible shoots of the ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris). They are considered a seasonal delicacy in many parts of Canada. Fiddleheads are collected in the wild, sold as a seasonal vegetable or served in restaurants. They are also commercially available in cans or as a frozen product.
Leafy greens are leafy vegetables that are an important part of a healthy diet, as recommended by Canada's Food Guide. Leafy greens usually have crisp green leaves and stalks, and are often eaten raw or lightly cooked to preserve the nutrients. Popular types of leafy greens include lettuce, arugula, bok choy and spinach.
Mushrooms are the fleshy part of a fungus and usually grow on composted materials and nutrient sources, such as a tree log. Mushrooms can be part of a nutritious diet and provide many nutrients that your body needs. Canada's Food Guide recommends a diet rich in vegetables and fruits to help maintain a healthy life.
Sprouts, such as alfalfa and mung beans, are a popular choice for Canadians as a low-calorie, healthy ingredient for many meals. Onion, radish, mustard and broccoli sprouts, which are not to be confused with the actual plant or vegetable, are also common options. However, sprouts can sometimes carry harmful bacteria, such as E. coli and Salmonella.
Tomatoes can be part of a nutritious diet and are a great source of vitamins and minerals, according to Canada's Food Guide. Tomatoes are fruits and are commonly red but can also come in a variety of other colours, such as yellow, pink and purple.
Unpasteurized juice and cider
Consumers need to be aware that there are certain risks involved in consuming unpasteurized products. While most people can safely consume unpasteurized fruit juice and cider, food safety experts don't recommend that children, pregnant women, older adults and people with a weakened immune system consume unpasteurized juice and cider.
Milk and dairy alternatives
Powdered infant formula
Young children, especially infants, are vulnerable to foodborne illness. Health Canada recommends breastfeeding your baby. Breast milk is the best source of nutrients for your baby and can help boost the baby's immune system. When a baby is not breastfed, liquid infant formula and powdered infant formula are acceptable alternatives.
Pasteurized milk and fortified milk alternatives have essential nutrients, such as calcium and vitamin D, which are important for the growth of your bones. Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide recommends that Canadians drink 500 ml or 2 cups of milk everyday to make sure that you are getting all the nutrients that you need for good health.
Seasonal food safety
Food is an important part of many holiday celebrations. You can help reduce the risk of foodborne illness for your family and friends during the holiday season by following some basic food safety tips.
Halloween is a fun and exciting time for children, and for adults! However, the excitement of Halloween shouldn't make us forget about food safety.
- Date modified: