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Important food safety tips for summer

BT Toronto | posted Thursday, May 26th, 2016

Summer is approaching, which means grilling season is in full effect. Many will be heading out the patio and grilling chicken, steak or fish for family and friends. However, there are some precautions to take as handling raw meats increases the risk of foodborne illness.

Health Canada states that between 11 and 13 million people experience foodborne illness every year. Ensuring the safety of raw meats can be challenging, especially in the summer as warmer temperatures increase the chance of bacteria forming. Luckily, Rose Reisman has simple tips to keep in mind to lower your risk of foodborne illness this summer.


1) Have two different coolers on hand.
Keep raw meats and perishable foods like salads and vegetables separate by using two coolers.

2) Fill each cooler with ice packs.
The temperature inside the cooler should be at or below 4°C (40°F).  Remember food should be kept out of the temperature danger zone of 4°C to 60°C (40°F to 140°F) as harmful bacteria can grow in as little as two hours within this range.

3) Keep food stored in lock up containers.
Be wary of re-sealable freezer bags as they can leak and contaminate an entire cooler.


1) Check the temperature of cooked meats.
Bacteria that causes strands of food poisoning (E. coli, salmonella, campylobacterare killed by heat. To avoid foodborne illness, meat must be cooked to a safe internal temperature as colour alone is not a reliable indicator.

Ground meat: 165°F (74°C)
Fish: 145°F (63°C)
Poultry: 165F (74°C)
Pork: 145°F (63°C)

2) Marinate meats to reduce carcinogens from flames.
A marinated steak can cut carcinogens by up to 88 per cent. When meat has been marinated, it creates barrier from harmful chemicals produced by heat.


1) Wash your hands thoroughly.
Always wash your hands with warm water and soap before and after handling food. Be careful if using hand sanitizer or alcohol based wipes, as these contain flammable ingredients.

2) Use a clean plate when taking food off the grill.
Never put ready-to-eat or cooked food on a plate that was used for raw meat, poultry or seafood as this will cause cross contamination.

3) Keep several sets of clean utensils, cutting boards, and plates on hand.
Prevent cross-contamination by using utensils, cutting boards, and plates that are visually different.

Worst foods to leave out

– Ice cream or ice cream sandwiches
– Potato salad or egg salad
– Coleslaw
– Chocolate

Best foods to leave out

– Pasta salad or bean salad (that don’t contain  mayonnaise)
– Cheese and crackers
– Chips and dip
– Veggies and hummus


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