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.
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General food safety tips
Learn how to select, handle and prepare food safely to help protect you and others from food poisoning.
Help protect yourself from foodborne illness. Use a digital thermometer to ensure you are cooking raw meat, fish and poultry to a safe internal temperature!
Explore Health Canada's Safe Food Handling tips to learn how you can safely handle food at home and at the grocery store.
Every year, more than 4 million Canadians get food poisoning (also known as foodborne illness or food-related illness). Storing your food properly is one of the key things you can do to protect yourself and your family from foodborne illness.
Many Canadians love to barbecue all year round, but especially when the weather starts to get warm. As with any type of cooking, it's important to follow safe food handling guidelines to prevent harmful bacteria from spreading and causing 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.
Many Canadians use microwave ovens as a convenient way to thaw, cook and reheat food. A number of people have concerns, however, about the effect of microwaves on their health and on the health and safety of their foods.
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.
Using reusable grocery bags and bins is a good environmental choice for Canadians. However, it's still important to use good food safety practices to avoid the risks of cross-contamination and foodborne illness.
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.
Every year, house fires destroy thousands of homes across Canada. In addition to property damage, house fires can cause serious injuries and even death. The tips below can help you stay safe and reduce the risk of cooking fires in your home.
Information about dates on pre-packaged food is a valuable source of information.
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.
Tips 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.
As we age, it becomes harder for the immune system to ward off harmful bacteria. To reduce the risk of foodborne illness, it is essential for older adults, and those who prepare food for older adults, to follow safe food-handling and cooking practices.
Both you and your unborn baby are at an increased risk for food poisoning. Protect yourself and your baby by following some simple rules.
If your immune system is weakened, you should take extra care when handling, storing, preparing, and shopping for food. In addition, consumption of certain high-risk foods should be avoided.
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.
Infant botulism is a serious disease that can affect children who are less than one year old. In Canada, the only food that has been linked to infant botulism is honey; therefore Health Canada is advising parents and caregivers not to feed honey to children under one year of age.
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.
Meat, poultry, fish and 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.
Eggs can provide you with essential nutrients that are part of a healthy diet. But like all foods, it is important that you handle and prepare them with care.
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.
Shellfish are nutritious foods that may be enjoyed in a variety of ways. Shellfish can have a pair of shells (bivalve) or a single shell (univalve). Canada's Food Guide to Healthy Eating recommends that Canadians eat at least two servings a week of fish or shellfish.
Poultry (such as turkey, chicken and duck) can be enjoyed in a variety of ways--but it can also cause food poisoning if it has not been stored, prepared or cooked properly. Protect your family from illness by following some simple rules.
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.
Melons are fruits that belong to the gourd family and grow close to the ground. A common characteristic that all melons share is a hard skin or rind that surrounds a fleshy center. Some popular types of melons are honeydew, cantaloupe and watermelon.
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.
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.
People sometimes store vegetables and herbs in oil to extend their shelf life or to flavour the oil. Some of these products include garlic, onions, sun-dried tomatoes, hot peppers, mushrooms and various herbs.
Milk and dairy alternatives
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.
While there are food safety tips that you should follow to avoid foodborne illness, it's also important to remember allergy awareness when you are packing lunches for school.
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.
The risk of foodborne illness increases during the summer when temperatures are warmer and people are more likely to be cooking outdoors. Harmful bacteria spread quickly in warm, moist conditions, so certain food safety measures should be taken.
Find out how the Government of Canada is working to promote healthy and safe food choices to consumers, prevent food safety risks, and protect Canadians when unsafe products enter the marketplace.