How to Prepare and Store Food Safely for Summer in Halton
We’re at the tail end of summer and you’ve probably got a slew of picnics and barbecues planned, but are you preparing and storing your food safely enough to host them?
Food handling is especially a concern over the summer, as food poisoning cases increase during the summer - harmful bacteria grow quickly in warm, moist conditions.
According to Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, and Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, there are several steps you can take to stay safe from foodborne illnesses, even seemingly simple things like following cooking instructions carefully and packaging raw meat securely and placing it at the bottom of your cooler or fridge.
According to Public Health Ontario, it is estimated that over 100,000 cases of foodborne illness occur in Ontario each year.
Here are a few simple tips to reduce the risk of food poisoning and transferring bacteria if you’re entertaining for the rest of the summer:
Use warm, soapy water to clean hands, surfaces, and equipment.
Keep raw meat, poultry, and fish separate from ready-to-eat foods like veggies and fruits.
Cook all food thoroughly. Especially cook meat and poultry thoroughly.
There is a risk of barbecue bristles becoming loose and getting into food, according to Health Canada. Make sure to inspect your brushes before use and throw them away if you notice bristles falling off.
Here are some tips to focus on food temperatures, which are also of concern for cooking over the summer:
Chill your foods and leftovers to four degrees Celsius or lower within two hours of purchase or preparation, especially for high-risk foods like meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products.
Use a food thermometer to ensure food is cooked to the correct temperature.
Don’t keep food at room temperature for more than two hours on summer days.
Always thaw meat in the fridge or under cold running water - not on the kitchen counter.
If you, or anyone you know, experience signs or symptoms of food poisoning, you should contact your doctor. Symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, stomach cramps and stomach pain.
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