Summer is here, and more people are cooking outside to take advantage of the sunshine and the warm temperatures. But the hot, humid weather, coupled with more difficult access to refrigeration or washing facilities, creates the perfect conditions for the rapid growth of bacteria on food.
Every year in Canada, roughly one in eight Canadians (or four million people) get sick with food poisoning, also known as foodborne illness. Many cases of foodborne illness can be prevented by following proper food handling and preparation techniques. While most people recover completely from foodborne illness, certain groups have a higher risk for serious health effects. These groups include pregnant women, children ages 5 and under, adults 60 years old and over, and people with weakened immune systems.
Learn about the symptoms of foodborne illness. The most common symptoms include: stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and fever. See a health care professional as soon as possible if you think you have a foodborne illness.
Follow these four steps when handing and preparing food: clean, separate, cook and chill.
Wash hands and surfaces often to avoid the spread of bacteria.
Wash your hands with warm water and soap, rinsing for at least 20 seconds, before handling food, and after handling raw meat or poultry, using the bathroom, touching pets or changing diapers. Alcohol-based hand cleansers are useful when soap and water are not available. In most cases antibacterial soap is not necessary for safe, effective hand hygiene.
Always wash raw fruits and vegetables with clean water. You cannot tell whether foods carry surface bacteria by the way they look, smell or taste.