Food Safety at Home

By following the 4 simple steps outlined below, you can help keep your food safe at home and prevent food borne illness.


Bacteria can be spread throughout the kitchen and get onto hands, cutting boards, utensils, countertops, and food. To stop the spread, be sure to: 

  • Wash your hands before you prepare, handle, serve, or eat food.  Wash your hands with warm water and soap, lathering for at least 15 to 20 seconds. 
  • Wash your hands after you handle raw meat, use the washroom, change diapers, touch pets, take out the garbage, or touch something that could be contaminated.
  • Wash and then sanitize cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and counter tops.  Make your own sanitizer by mixing 5 ml (1 teaspoon) of household bleach with 1 litre (4 cups) of water.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables just before serving. Pre-washed produce should not be washed again.
  • Use a scrub brush to remove bacteria and dirt on dense vegetables or produce with firm skin such as carrots, potatoes, melons, cantaloupe, and squash before cutting. 


  • Cross-contamination is when bacteria are spread from one food item to another. It happens when bacteria on uncooked food, dirty hands, or contaminated utensils touches cooked or ready-to-eat food. 
  • Tips to prevent cross-contamination:
  • Keep raw meat and ready-to-eat food separate.
  • Separate raw meat from other foods in your grocery shopping cart and grocery bags. 
  • Store raw meat in sealed containers on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator.  This stops liquid from the raw meat from dripping onto cooked or ready-to-eat food.
  • Use one cutting board for fresh produce and a separate one for raw meat, poultry, and seafood.
  • Never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs.


You can reduce your risk of food poisoning by thoroughly cooking your food.  Food is safely cooked when it reaches an internal temperature that’s high enough to kill the  harmful bacteria that may cause food-borne illness.

To make sure you cook food safely:

  • Use a food thermometer to measure the internal temperature of cooked meat, poultry, and egg dishes. Remember, the colour of meat is not a reliable indicator of doneness. See the chart below for a list of minimum cooking temperatures.
  • Cooked food should be kept out of the temperature danger zone where bacteria grow quickly (between 4°C (40°F) and 60°C (140°F)).  Don’t eat cooked food that’s been left in the temperature danger zone for more than 2 hours.
  • Cook eggs until the yolk and white are firm, not runny. Don’t use recipes in which eggs remain raw or only partially cooked.

Food Item

Minimum Internal Temperature

Poultry, whole

82˚C (180˚F)

Poultry, pieces and ground

74˚C (165˚F)

Food mixtures with meat

74˚C (165˚F)

Ground meats (not poultry)

71˚C (160˚F)

Pork, pork products

71˚C (160˚F)


70˚C (158˚F)


  • Cold temperatures slow the growth of harmful bacteria. 
  • Remember to:
  • Keep food at 4 °C (40 °F) or colder in the refrigerator.
  • Keep food at -18°C (0 °F) or colder in the freezer.
  • Not over-stuff the refrigerator. Cold air must circulate to help keep food safe.
  • Never defrost food at room temperature. Food must be kept at a safe temperature during thawing. There are three safe ways to defrost food: in the refrigerator, in cold water, and in the microwave. Food thawed in cold water or in the microwave should be cooked immediately.
  • Always marinate food in the refrigerator.
  • Never leave cooked food in the temperature danger zone for more than 2 hours (between 4°C (40°F) and 60°C (140°F)).