Food Safety

Frequently Asked Questions

What is food poisoning?

Most food poisoning is caused by bacteria. It can also be caused by :

Although not traditionally considered a foodborne illness, allergens (like peanuts) in certain foods may also cause mild to severe reactions in some people.

You cannot see, smell or taste bacteria or other germs that can cause food poisoning.

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What are the symptoms of food poisoning?

Symptoms of food poisoning can include :

Some times persons infected may not exhibit any symptoms. These asymptomatic individuals can still pass the disease on to others.

It is not always easy to tell if your symptoms have been caused by food because you can start feeling sick anywhere from hours to weeks after the food has been eaten.

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Who is most at-risk of getting food poisoning?

Food poisoning is often mild, but sometimes there can be long-term complications and even death.

People most likely to become very sick are :

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Are some foods riskier than others?

All foods can cause food poisoning if they aren’t properly handled. However, bacteria grow better in some foods than others. Foods that can support the growth of bacteria or other germs are considered high risk and need to be cooked to a high enough temperature for a long enough time and stored in the fridge or freezer.

Examples of high-risk foods include :

Lower risk foods generally don’t need to be refrigerated (until opened) and tend to be high in sugar, salt or acid and/or low in water content.

Examples of low risk foods include :

Lower risk foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables can still become contaminated through food handling or production processes so it’s important to wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating them.

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What can I do to reduce the risk of food poisoning?

You can reduce the risk of food poisoning by following these four simple steps :

Wash your hands, utensils and surfaces with hot soapy water before, during and after preparing foods. Sanitize countertops, cutting boards and utensils with a mild bleach and water solution. Wash all produce thoroughly before eating or cooking.

Keep raw meats and poultry away from other foods during storage and preparation. Keep separate cutting boards for raw meats and vegetables. Always keep foods covered.

Cook food thoroughly – cooking times and temperatures vary for different meat and poultry. Prepare foods within two hours and serve immediately so foods don't linger at room temperatures where bacteria can grow.

Refrigerate or freeze perishables, prepared food and leftovers within two hours. Make sure the refrigerator is set at a temperature of 4°C (40°F) or colder, and keep the freezer at -18°C (0°F) or colder.

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How do I properly store, prepare, serve and handle food?

When you shop :

When you’re storing food :

When you’re preparing food :

When you're cooking :

When you’re microwaving :

When you’re serving food :

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How do I properly handle leftover food?

When you’re handling leftovers :

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Why is food safety important during pregnancy?

Foodborne illness affects everyone, but it can be more serious when you are pregnant. During pregnancy your body will change, including how your immune system works. These changes may make you more susceptible to food poisoning, and certain types of food poisoning may cause more serious illness during pregnancy. Food poisoning can also make your baby sick before and after being born.

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What should I eat during my pregnancy?

You should eat foods that are properly washed, stored and cooked to prevent food poisoning during your pregnancy. You should avoid foods that are considered high-risk for pregnant women.

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How can I prepare baby formula during a power failure?

Prepare only what your baby will drink in a day and keep it stored at cool temperatures. The safest temperature for bottles of prepared formula is 4°C or less. You should also :

Safe Water Supply

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How can I keep food safe during a power failure?

Food in your refrigerator :

Food in your freezer :

For More Information

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