Enjoy the barbeque season!

Tools of the trade

BBQ tools of the trade

Summer is a great time to enjoy outdoor living and the wonderful foods that go with it. However, a few basic precautions will ensure that the fun is not ruined by the arrival of uninvited guests to the party.

Health Canada estimates that approximately 11 to 13 million Canadians suffer from food poisoning each year. The majority of these incidents are not reported and are often mistaken as the stomach “flu.”  Food poisoning is caused by eating foods or beverages that have been contaminated with certain bacteria, viruses or parasites.  Common symptoms of food poisoning include stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and fever.  How quickly you may become ill can vary from a few hours to several days depending on the type of bacteria, virus or parasite that is present in the foods or beverages consumed. Most people recover fully but, in some cases, illness can be severe and even fatal.

As warm weather arrives, families and friends enjoy their vacation and take pleasure in each other’s company at home or picnicking and camping together.  Unfortunately, such warm weather accompanies  an increased risk of foods being left out in the danger zone (4°C/40°F – 60°C/140°F) for too long or being mishandled as the luxuries of your kitchen may be unavailable to you during food preparation and cooking.

Enjoy the delicious sizzling treats from your barbeque this summer by following a few food safety tips that can help protect you and your guests from suffering from food poisoning.

* Always wash your hands with soap and water before you handle foods
* Clean utensils and work surfaces with hot soapy water before preparing foods

* Always thaw meats in the refrigerator or under cold running water
* Keep cold foods cold by using loose ice or ice packs

* Cook foods thoroughly and use a food thermometer to check that they have reached a safe internal temperature to kill bacteria:
~Whole Poultry: 82°C/182°F
~Poultry Pieces: 74°C/165°F
~Ground Beef and Pork: 71°C/160°F
~Fish: 70°C/158°F

Keep hot foods hot by using the barbecue or a warming dish

* Remember to use separate utensils, cutting boards and platters for raw foods and cooked foods
* Always marinate meats in the refrigerator and do not use leftover marinade from the raw products to brush cooked products
* Cover food items to protect them from flies and other insects

By using these tips, you can enjoy the company of your friends and family members this summer and keep the uninvited guests that cause food poisoning away.

For more information or questions regarding food safety, please contact Ottawa Public Health at (613) 580-6744 (TTY: 613-580-9656).