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Hello summer BBQ, good-bye foodborne illness

By Kelly Bettschen, Food Policy and Food Safety Analyst, Regina

July 2018

Summer is here, and so are camping trips, family reunions, weddings and barbecues. Summer also brings challenges to keep our food safe and foodborne illness off our summer “bucket” lists. Everyone from farm to fork plays a role in food safety.

The public’s role in food safety

How can the public make sure they are doing their part in food safety? 

It all begins with planning events. Take a couple of extra minutes to think about food safety and how you can make sure that everyone has lots of delicious and safe food. 

  • Use separate utensils for raw and cooked food.
  • Use a clean container for cooked food; don’t just rinse the meat juice off and think the container or plate is clean. Make sure you are washing containers with hot, soapy water and rinse with a mild bleach solution.
  • Keep hot foods hot (60 C or above) and cold foods cold (below 4 C). 
  • Use a meat thermometer to make sure meat is cooked properly.
    • Beef:
      • Ground (e.g. hamburgers) - 71 C
      • Whole muscle:
        • Medium-rare - 63 C
        • Medium - 71 C
        • Well-done - 77 C
  • Poultry:
    • Ground (e.g. burgers) - 74 C
    • Pieces - 74 C
    • Whole - 77 C
  • Pork (e.g. chops, ribs) - 71 C
  • Sausage - 74 C
  • Fish - 70 C
  • Serve food and then put it away immediately. Never leave perishable foods (e.g. meats, salads, condiments) at room temperature for more than one hour.
    • Put hot foods in shallow containers to cool quickly in the refrigerator.
    • Set up food tables in the shade out of direct sunlight.
    • Keep foods covered to prevent insects and dust from causing contamination.
    • Remember to eat leftovers within a couple of days or freeze them. Always reheat them to 74 C.
    • Most of all when it comes to food safety: When in doubt, throw it out.

So there you have it, a few quick and easy steps to keep your summer meal fun and free of bugs--well, foodborne illness bugs, anyway; no promises on the mosquitoes.

For more information, check out Health Canada’s information on safe internal cooking temperatures and storage times, summer food safety tips and food safety tips for barbequing.

Producers’ and food processors’ role in food safety

How do producers and food processors keep our food safe? By taking a lot of steps to ensure that products in stores and restaurants are free of foodborne illnesses. They must follow regulations and policies that ensure food safety, proper wait times after administering medications or herbicides and pesticides. They also follow biosecurity practices and ensure animal welfare both on farm, throughout transport and at abattoirs.

For more information, check out the federal Food and Drugs Act/Regulations, Safe Food for Canadians Act/Regulations, the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) Codes of Practice and On-Farm Food Safety Systems.

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