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Food Safety General Public Information


Halton Region puts out general public information to help inform residents of food safety issues. Learn about food safety tips, the Fight BAC! campaign, and washing fruits and vegetables.


Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI H5N1) has recently been detected in unpasteurized milk from sick dairy cattle in the US. The risk to the general public remains low, however, people should avoid consuming undercooked meat or poultry and any unpasteurized dairy products.

Food safety tips

1. Clean


  • Always wash your hands, utensils and cooking surfaces with soap and hot water:
    • Before you handle food
    • Repeatedly while you prepare it
    • Again when you have finished
  • Sanitize countertops, cutting boards and utensils with a mild bleach and water solution after washing and rinsing.
  • Wash all produce under cool running water before eating or cooking.

2. Separate


  • Keep certain foods, like meats and their juices, separated from other foods during storage and preparation.
  • Use separate cutting boards for raw meats and vegetables. Always keep food covered.
  • Store ready-to-eat foods above raw foods in your refrigerator to prevent cross-contamination.
  • To avoid cross-contamination, store, handle, and prepare raw and cooked foods separately. Remember: Separate, don't cross-contaminate!

3. Cook


  • Prepare foods quickly, cook them thoroughly and serve them immediately.
  • Don't let foods linger at temperatures where bacteria can grow. The danger zone is between 4°C (39°F) and 60°C (140°F).
  • Use a probe thermometer to check the internal temperature of food. Test the food at its thickest point. If you hit a bone, then you will get an incorrect reading.
    • Whole poultry (chicken and turkey) 82°C / 180°F
    • Poultry pieces, ground poultry 74°C / 165°F
    • Ground meat (beef, pork, lamb) 71°C / 160°F
    • Pork and pork products 71°C / 160°F
    • Fish 70°C / 158°F
  • To ensure that your analogue thermometer is accurately calibrated, test it using one of two methods:
    • Ice point method
      • Fill a container with crushed ice.
      • Add clean tap water until the container is full and stir well.
      • Insert the stem of your thermometer into the ice water to read the temperature.
      • If your thermometer does not get a reading of 0°C (32°F), adjust the calibration nut under the head of the thermometer.
      • Hold the head firmly in one hand while turning the calibration nut with a wrench or pliers until the indicator reads 0°C (32°F).
    • Boiling point method
      • Bring water to a full boil and stir to make sure the temperature is even throughout.
      • Insert the stem of the thermometer into the boiling water until the indicator stabilizes.
      • Adjust the calibration nut to read 100°C (212°F).
      • Take altitude into account, as the boiling point of water drops about 1°F for every 550 feet above sea level.

4. Chill


Refrigerate or freeze perishables, prepared food and leftovers within two hours. To quickly and safely cook food:

  • Divide large portions into smaller pieces. This will increase the surface area that is being cooled and reduce the amount of cooling time required.
  • Use shallow pans for quick cooling
  • Add ice cubes to the food, or cool by putting the container in an ice bath.
  • Never leave hazardous food (e.g., poultry, meat, dairy) at room temperature or in the temperature "danger zone."
  • Always keep cold foods at or below 4°C (39°F). Frozen foods must be stored at -18°C (0°F) or colder.

Fight BAC! campaign

Fight BAC! (external link) is a national food safety campaign that educates consumers about safe food handling practices in the home. It focuses on four food safety tips that people can follow to fight food-borne bacteria and reduce the risk of food-borne illness.

Fight BAC! was developed by the Canadian Partnership for Food Safety Education. As a member of the partnership, the Halton Region Health Department has created a series of posters to support the campaign locally. You can order the posters through the document repository.

  • Cooking Temperatures
  • Chill
  • Clean
  • Separate
  • Safe Food Storage Temperatures
  • Wash Your Hands
  • Dishwashing Machine
  • Dishwashing: 3 Sink Method
  • Dishwashing: 2 Sink Method
  • How to mix a chlorine solution for sanitizing using bleach

Washing fruits and vegetables

Follow these tips to properly wash fresh fruits and vegetables:

  1. Before handling any foods, wash your hands with soap and water. Dry with a paper towel.
  2. After removing and disposing of the outer leaves of vegetables (e.g., lettuce, cabbage), wash your hands again.
  3. Wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly in running water that is safe to drink. Use a clean colander or clean sink. Do not use soap or detergent, as they might be absorbed into the food.
  4. Use running water to rinse the fruits and vegetables. Do not soak lettuce or cabbage leaves in a sink of water.
  5. Use a clean brush to scrub the outside of melons, potatoes, carrots, and any other vegetables or fruit that have hard surfaces.
  6. Cut away any damaged or bruised areas, as harmful bacteria can live in these areas.
  7. Wash, rinse and sanitize the knife, cutting boards and surfaces after slicing produce.
  8. Always place washed produce in a clean container.
  9. Store fresh fruits and vegetables in the refrigerator at 4°C (40°F) within 2 hours of peeling or cutting. Discard the food if it is left at room temperature for 2 hours or more.