December 20, 2010
Media Release

Be food safe this holiday season

York Region’s Food Safety in the Home campaign encourages residents to follow         four simple steps to reduce the risk of food-borne illness this holiday season
NEWMARKET – Whether you are cooking at home or transporting food to a potluck celebration, following the four simple steps of clean, separate, cook and chill will help minimize the risk of food-borne illness this holiday season.
Clean: Bacteria can easily spread throughout the kitchen.  Frequent and proper cleaning can prevent that from happening.
• Wash your hands with soap and warm water for 15 to 20 seconds before and after handling food
• Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils and countertops with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item and before you go on to the next item
• Wash fresh fruits and vegetables thoroughly under cool running water, including those with skins and rinds that are not eaten; if you use a vegetable brush, make sure it is clean
Separate: Cross-contamination is how harmful bacteria spread.  Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood and their juices separate from food that is cooked or ready-to-eat during purchase, transport and storage.
• Separate raw meat, poultry and seafood from other foods in your grocery shopping cart and grocery bags
• Store raw meat, poultry and seafood on the lowest shelves in your refrigerator to prevent their juices from dripping onto other food
• Use one cutting board for ready-to-eat foods and a separate one for raw meat (e.g., poultry, beef and seafood)
Cook: Improper cooking of food could mean that harmful bacteria survive and make you sick.  Food is safely cooked when it reaches a high enough internal temperature to kill the harmful bacteria.
• Use a probe food thermometer to check the internal temperature of food; this is the only way to tell if the food has reached the proper final cooking temperature; you can not tell if food is cooked safely by how it looks
• Re-heat leftovers to 74°C (165°F) or higher; bring gravy to a rolling boil and stir during the re-heating process
Chill:  Refrigerate promptly, cool food quickly
• Bacteria multiply fastest at the temperatures between 4°C (40°F) and 60°C (140°F), so chilling food properly is one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of illness
• Keep the fridge at 4°C (40°F) or below; use an appliance thermometer and check it often to make sure that your fridge is at the correct temperature
• Thaw meat in the refrigerator, under cold running water or in the microwave; food thawed in the microwave should be cooked immediately after being thawed; never thaw meat at room temperature
• Keep hot food at 60°C (140°F) or hotter, and keep cold food at 4°C (40°F) or colder
• Perishable food left out for more than two hours should be discarded
• Cool hot food properly by portioning it into shallow containers, before storing it into the refrigerator or freezer
• Refrigerate leftover food as soon as possible and use within 48 hours
More holiday food tips:
• Prepare homemade eggnog with pasteurized egg products
• Serve pasteurized ciders or if unpasteurized cider is only available, bring to a rolling boil before serving
• If you are transporting hot food to a function, ensure it is packed in an insulated container to maintain it at a minimum temperature of 60°C (140°F); cold foods should be transported in a cooler packed with ice or ice packs to keep the temperature at 4°C (40°F) or colder
• If you are hosting a potluck function, encourage guest that live a fair distance to bring non-perishable items such as bread, beverages and fruit; it is recommended that food to be served as a hot or cold dish be prepared at the host’s home or by a guest that lives very close by
For more information on this or any other public health-related topic, please contact York Region Health Connection at 1-800-361-5653 or TTY 1-866-252-9933.  Additional information about the York Region Food Safety in the Home campaign is available at

For more information on The Regional Municipality of York, please visit
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Media Contact: Jennifer Mitchell-Emmerson, Community and Health Services, York Region
Phone: 905-830-4444 Ext. 4016 or After-hours Cell: 905-716-9753

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