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Everyday Safe Food Handling Practices

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  • Handwashing is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of foodborne illness.
    • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water before and after handling food.
  • Thoroughly clean and sanitize countertops, cutting boards, utensils and dishes after each use. Do this with hot soapy water or a bleach sanitizer.


  • Combine 5 mL (1 tsp) of bleach with 750 mL (3 cups) of water in a labelled spray bottle.
  • After cleaning, spray sanitizer on the surface/utensil and let stand briefly.
  • Rinse with lots of clean water, and air dry (or use clean towels).
  • Consider using paper towels to clean up kitchen surfaces. If you use cloth towels or sponges, wash them often in the hot cycle of your washing machine.
  • Wash raw fruits and vegetables with clean, running water before you prepare and eat them. Use a brush to scrub produce that has firm or rough surfaces, such as cantaloupes, carrots, oranges, and potatoes.

WHY? If you don’t keep your hands, utensils and food preparation areas clean and sanitized, bacteria can spread easily. It can then contaminate your food.


  • Bacteria can grow in the danger zone between 4°C and 60°C (40°F to 140°F).
  • To prevent the growth of harmful bacteria, keep cold food cold. Store it at or below 4°C (40°F).
  • Do not keep food in the danger zone for longer than two hours. Foods that need to be refrigerated or frozen should be stored immediately after they are brought home from the grocery store.
  • Refrigeration at or below 4°C (40°F) slows down most bacterial growth, while freezing at or below -18°C (0°F) can stop bacteria growth completely. (But remember: refrigeration and freezing won't kill bacteria. Only proper cooking will do that!)
  • Plan ahead: thaw food in the refrigerator, where the food will stay at a safe, constant temperature of 4°C (40°F) or below.

WHY? Disease-causing bacteria multiply quickly when food is kept at room temperature.


  • Bacteria can be carried in raw meat juices. So keep raw food away from other food while shopping, and while storing, preparing and serving foods.
  • Place raw meat, poultry and seafood in containers on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. This will prevent raw juices from dripping onto other food or touching other food.
  • Use separate equipment and utensils such as knives and cutting boards for handling raw foods.
  • When serving cooked food, do not reuse the same plates and utensils that raw food sat on. Use clean plates and utensils for cooked and other ready-to-eat food.

WHY? Raw food and their juices can contain harmful bacteria. If you do not properly cook, prepare or store food, you could end up eating the harmful bacteria and get sick.


  • Bacteria can grow in the danger zone between 4°C and 60°C (40°F to 140°F).
  • Keep hot foods at or above 60°C (140°F).
  • Make sure that sauces, soups and gravy are brought to a boil when you reheat them.
  • When cooking food in a microwave, stir or rotate the food half way through the cooking time. This will eliminate any cold spots and will help with even cooking.
  • Use a digital food thermometer to check that the temperature of cooked foods has reached the safe temperatures shown in the chart below.

WHY? If you cook foods thoroughly until they reach safe internal temperatures, you will help prevent foodborne illness.

Internal Cooking Temperatures

You can’t tell by looking. Use a digital food thermometer to be sure!

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 (e.g. chicken, turkey, duck)  - pieces 74°C (165°F)
Poultry - whole 85°C (185°F)
Ground meat and meat mixtures (e.g. 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)

The Government of Canada’s role in food safety

The Government of Canada is committed to food safety.

Health Canada establishes regulations and standards relating to the safety and nutritional quality of food sold in Canada. Through inspection and enforcement activities, the CFIA is responsible for verifying that food sold in Canada meets Health Canada’s requirements.

For more information on food safety, please visit