Food Safety

Food poisoning can be prevented if you follow food safety practices.

It is recommended that anyone planning to prepare and sell or give food to the public take a food safety training course. It is a requirement for most commercial food businesses.


Clean your hands, and wash and sanitize surfaces and equipment. Do it often and do it well. Bacteria can get onto hands, cutting boards, knives, dishcloths, counters and the food itself.

  • Always wash your hands with soap and warm water for 15 seconds before handling food or eating
  • Keep kitchen equipment, counters, taps, sinks and appliances clean; and, sanitize by using a bleach and water solution (1 tsp. of bleach per 1 litre of water)
  • Wash dishcloths in the washing machine regularly. Use paper towels to clean surfaces if possible
  • Wash all raw produce under cold, running water before cutting or eating


Cross-contamination occurs when bacteria spread from one food to another. This can easily happen when cooked or ready-to-eat foods come into contact with raw meat or other uncooked foods, dirty hands, or contaminated utensils or cutting boards.

Keep raw and ready-to-eat foods separate.

  • Store raw meats, poultry, seafood, and eggs below ready to eat foods, such as foods that do not need further cooking before eating  (e.g. fruits, vegetables and cooked foods)
  • Use separate cutting boards and utensils for raw meats and fruits/vegetables
  • Use separate plates or surfaces for raw meats - do not mix cooked and ready-to-eat foods with raw meats
  • Marinate foods in the refrigerator and prepare a new marinade each time for basting


You can reduce your risk of food poisoning by thoroughly cooking your food. You are taking a risk whenever you eat meat, poultry or fish that is raw or only partly cooked.

Use a probe thermometer to check cooking temperatures for meat, poultry and fish, at its thickest part.

Here is a guide to the proper internal cooking temperatures of common foods:

  • Pork: 71°C (160°F)
  • Poultry, whole (chicken, duck, turkey): 82°C (180°F)
  • Poultry, pieces or ground: 74°C (165°F)
  • Ground meat: 71°C (160°F)
  • Fish and seafood: 70°C (158°F)
  • Egg dishes: 74°C (165°F)
  • Mixed foods (soups, stews, casseroles, etc.): 74°C (165°F)

Preparation and serving tips:

  • Keep food hot, at 60°C or above, after it is cooked and until it is served
  • If you use your microwave, make sure the food is cooked evenly
  • Reheat leftovers to their original cooking temperature


Keeping cold foods cold will reduce the risk of food poisoning. Cold temperatures slow down the growth of bacteria.

  • Keep cold food cold - your refrigerator temperature should be 4°C or lower. Use ice packs for picnics and lunch bags
  • Refrigerate food within two hours of purchase or preparation
  • Do not overfill your refrigerator - it needs space for the cool air to circulate and keep food cold
  • Defrost frozen food in the refrigerator. Use a microwave to defrost immediately before cooking

Facts about raw (unpasteurized) milk

Raw milk may contain harmful bacteria. Pasteurization eliminates this bacteria and ensures the milk we drink is safe. Milk must be pasteurized in order to be sold in Canada. It is illegal to sell, offer for sale, deliver or distribute unpasteurized (raw) milk and milk products in Ontario (Section 18 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act).

More information about raw milk and the risks associated is available at:

Making a complaint

Submit a complaint to Public Health if you:

  • Think you have food poisoning after eating at a food business in Waterloo Region
  • Have concerns about the food safety practices at a food establishment in the Region of Waterloo

Call 519-575-4400 to make a complaint or report online.

It is helpful for our investigation to know:

  • Where you ate
  • When (date and time) you went to the place or ate the meal
  • What you ate
  • What symptoms (a rash, for example) you have and when they first developed

To determine whether the illness was caused by the suspected food, it is important that you submit a stool sample to Public Health. Stool kits are available from the Public Health Inspector who speaks to you.

Additional resources

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