Germs are everywhere, even on our food. Many foods naturally have germs on them, or germs can be spread to foods accidentally. Most of the time, our bodies are able to fight off the germs we eat. But sometimes, germs can grow to levels our bodies can’t handle and we get sick. This is called food poisoning or foodborne illness.
Who’s at Risk?
Foodborne illness often causes symptoms like diarrhea or vomiting and is normally mild, but can be serious. While everyone is at risk of foodborne illness, certain people are more vulnerable than others, including children, pregnant women, older adults and people with chronic health conditions.
We often think that food poisoning only happens in restaurants, but often it is because of unsafe food handling at home too. Protect yourself by always practising food safety, both at home and while dining out.
Things You Can Do
Food Safety at Home
Every year, millions of Canadians get sick from the food they eat. This can happen when food is not prepared safely. Protect yourself and your family by following these four steps to food safety:
Germs that can make your sick are easily spread through your kitchen on hands, cutting boards, knives, and counter tops. Frequent cleaning of surfaces and kitchen tools can keep that from happening.
Remember, hand washing is one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself from foodborne illness! Always wash your hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before preparing food and after handling raw meat.
Harmful bacteria often grows on raw meat, poultry and seafood. Keep raw foods and their juices away from any food that won’t be cooked to prevent the spread of germs.
Properly cooking foods kills germs that can make you sick. The only way to know that your food has been properly cooked is to use a food thermometer to check the final temperature. Find a list of safe cooking temperatures here.
Harmful germs grow quickly at temperatures between 4°C (40°F) and 60°C (140°F). It’s important to store foods in the refrigerator within two hours of cooking to prevent germs from growing. Use a thermometer to make sure that your refrigerator temperature is below 4°C (40°F).
Food Safety While Dining Out
Our public health inspectors inspect all restaurants and places where food is sold or served. During inspections, public health inspectors educate food service workers on safe food handling and enforce food safety laws. You can find all of our health inspection reports online at Check it CK. Always check before you dine out!
Report a Concern
If you think you have food poisoning, see your health care provider. It is important that you wash your hands regularly and stay home from work or school if you have symptoms to prevent others from getting sick.
You can always report food safety concerns to CK Public Health. A public health inspector will follow up with you.