Every year, approximately 100,000 cases of foodborne illness occur in Ontario. Protect yourself, and those who eat the food you prepare, by learning the basics of food safety.
“Hand washing, when done correctly is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of communicable diseases” (Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, 2018).
Ensuring your hands are washed thoroughly before and after preparing food, is one of the most important actions you can take to minimize food contamination and prevent foodborne illness. Always wash your hands before you start handling food or cleaning dishes/utensils.
Ensuring food is cooked to a safe internal temperature is an important part of food safety. The chart below shows the appropriate temperatures for various food products. The Ministry of Health provides additional information to help ensure the food you prepare is safe.
|Product||Minimal Internal Cooked Temperature |
(Celsius / Fahrenheit)
|All ground meat (other than poultry)||71 °C / 160 °F|
|Ground poultry||74 °C / 165 °F|
|Poultry pieces||74 °C / 160 °F|
|Whole poultry (with or without stuffing)||82 °C / 180 °F|
|Pork or pork products||71 °C / 160 °F|
|Fish||70 °C / 158 °F|
|Food mixtures containing egg, meat, poultry, fish, or other hazardous food||74 °C / 165 °F|
Use a thermometer to check internal food temperatures.
Never let food sit in the temperature danger zone (4 °C to 6 °C ), or the food may become unsafe to eat, even if it has already been cooked! Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Thaw food in the fridge, not on the counter. Cool food quickly by dividing leftovers into smaller portions and refrigerate them as soon as possible. Reheat food quickly on the stovetop or in the microwave. If leftovers were forgotten or stayed out too long, cooking them again will not necessarily make them safe to eat.
Food must be reheated to the original cooking temperature within two (2) hours, except for whole poultry which can be reheated to 74°C (165°F) within two (2) hours.
How Long to Keep Food?
If you’re wondering how long food stored in the fridge is safe to eat, the Food Storage Guide offers recommendations to help your family avoid getting ill from eating spoiled food.
If you or a family member become ill after eating foods that might have been contaminated, it is important to get help. If you have signs or symptoms of a foodborne illness, you should contact your doctor or primary care provider.
If you suspect that you may have become ill after eating at a restaurant or other food premises, you can report this concern. Call us at 613-966-5500 or 1-800-267-2803, ext. 349.
Safe use of Infant Formula
Young children, especially infants, are more vulnerable to foodborne illness. Breastfeeding is recommended, as breast milk is the best source of nutrients for your baby and can help boost your baby’s immune system. If you have made an informed decision to use breast milk substitute, proper sterilization of equipment, preparation, and storage are important to prevent illness in your infant. Health Canada provides helpful information about storing and safe handling of alternative milks.
Reference: Ministry of Health and Long-term Care. Get the safe food facts. 2008 [cited 2016 Mar 15].