Food Safety

There is currently no evidence to suggest that food is a likely route of transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19. There is limited evidence on how long the virus can stay on food. The virus survives longest on non-porous surfaces such as stainless steel and plastic. The COVID-19 virus can be killed by normal cooking temperatures. 

Do not use household soaps or disinfectants when cleaning food. The chemicals in these products should not be ingested.

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.


Clean

Clean your hands, 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
  • 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

Separate

Cross-contamination occurs when bacteria spread from one food to another. This can easily happen when cooked or ready-to-eat foods come into contract 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
  • Use separate cutting boards and utensils for raw meats and fruits/vegetables
  • Use separate plates or surfaces for raw meats - do not put ready-to-eat foods with raw meats
  • Marinate foods in the refrigerator and prepare a new marinade each time for basting

Cook

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

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:

  • Use a thermometer to check cooking temperatures for meat, poultry and fish
  • 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

Chill

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
  • 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

Making a complaint

Submit a complaint to Public Health if you:

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

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 or at our Waterloo office located at 99 Regina St. S.


Additional resources

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