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 www.york.ca/foodsafety
For more information on The Regional Municipality of York, please visit www.york.ca
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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