Food Safety Definitions for Food Vendors at Special Events

Cross Contamination

Cross-contamination occurs when safe-to-eat food has become contaminated with pathogenic bacteria, chemicals or unwanted items.  Prepared food items can become unsafe when they come in contact with surfaces, utensils, hands, equipment and other food items that are contaminated.

All foods being served must come from an inspected source. See Proposed Food menu (Appendix B in PDF) that must be submitted with your Food Vendor Application.

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Danger Zone

The temperature zone where bacteria multiply is called the “Danger Zone.”  This temperature range is between 4°C and 60°C (40°F to 140°F).  If food items are kept within this temperature range, bacteria will multiply and double every 20 minutes.  Therefore, it is important to keep the food cold or hot and out of the danger zone to stop bacteria from growing.

An accurate thermometer must be provided to check the internal temperatures of hazardous food.

A chart with a thermometer showing the danger zone temperature (between 60 degrees and 4 degrees celcius).

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Food-borne Illness

Food-borne illness (often called food poisoning) occurs when you eat food that is contaminated.

Food-borne illness is a general term for:

  • Infections caused by micro-organisms such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites. 
  • Poisoning by toxins from bacteria or mould in food.
  • Poisoning by chemicals in food.

There are currently over two hundred diseases that are transmitted through food (Institute of Food Technologists Expert Report on Food Safety Issues in the 21st Century, 2002).

Note: All types of food can make people sick if it is contaminated, but some types of food are higher risk than others.  They are referred as hazardous or high risk foods.

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Hazardous Food

Food, which consists in whole or in part of:

  • Milk or milk products
  • Eggs
  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Shellfish

Meringue and other desserts containing dairy products are considered hazardous foods.  Hazardous food must be refrigerated.

Fruits and vegetable, which are generally considered low risk foods can still become contaminated through food handling or production processes.  Be sure to follow safe food handling practices and thoroughly wash fresh fruits and vegetables before preparation.

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Non-hazardous Food

Non-hazardous foods do not normally support the growth of disease causing bacteria and do not usually need to be refrigerated.  Examples include:

  • Dry goods and cereals
  • Most baked goods and unconstituted dehydrated foods
  • Cookies
  • Breads
  • Cakes
  • Potato chips
  • Popcorn
  • Nuts

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Water Source

There are a number of organisms which can be transmitted through water including bacteria, viruses and parasites. These organisms have the potential to make people sick.  All water used throughout the event, including water used for hand washing, preparation of foods, cleaning and making ice must or safe.

All water samples must be taken by a Public Health Inspector.  Please contact Halton Region Health Department at 905-825-6000, in a timely manner, to set up an appointment for sampling.

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