Black Friday is an eagerly anticipated shopping event in Canada, where millions of consumers flock to stores to get their hands on the best deals. With so many bargains on offer, the last thing you want is to miss out due to a food-related illness.
Health Canada estimates that approximately 4 million Canadians experience food-borne illnesses each year and both the discomfort and disruption caused can be severe. Avoid becoming another statistic and keep your plans on track this Black Friday by following these five essential tips:
1. Store food correctly
It's imperative that you ensure food is stored safely. Perishable items, including meats, poultry, and dairy products must be refrigerated promptly, ideally within two hours of purchase. Maintain a fridge temperature of 4°C (40°F) or lower to limit the growth of harmful bacteria.
It’s also worth Investing in quality food storage containers to preserve your food and keep it organized. Don't forget to label them with the purchase date for easy tracking. If you have doubts about the safety of a particular food item, consult Health Canada or seek advice from a healthcare professional.
2. Reheat leftovers thoroughly
If you plan to consume leftover meals in the lead up to Black Friday, you must reheat them safely. Use a food thermometer to verify that reheated food has reached a minimum internal temperature of 74°C (165°F) to eliminate any potentially harmful pathogens.
When microwaving leftovers, stir them and rotate the dish to ensure consistent heating. Keep in mind that sauces and gravies should be heated separately. Never partially reheat leftovers and return them to storage, as this can lead to microbial growth.
3. Pay attention to expiry dates
While leftovers are a convenient solution to the midweek meal dilemma, they have a limited shelf life. Pay attention to expiry dates on the original packaging of ingredients and aim to consume leftovers within three to four days.
Some items may last longer, but seafood and dairy-based dishes are more susceptible to spoilage. If in doubt, consider freezing your leftovers to extend their usability. When reheating frozen food, ensure it thaws completely before heating it to the appropriate temperature.
4. Prioritize food hygiene
Don't overlook the significance of proper hygiene. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before handling food. It’s also important to clean and sanitize utensils, cutting boards, and countertops.
Cross-contamination is a prevalent cause of food-borne illnesses, so segregate raw ingredients from cooked foods and consistently clean your hands and kitchen tools when transitioning between tasks. Practicing good hygiene is fundamental in preventing food-borne illnesses.
5. Educate yourself and others
One of the most effective strategies for avoiding food-borne illnesses is to educate yourself and those around you about food safety. As well as sharing these tips with your family and friends you can take it upon yourself to undergo professional food safety training.
The Canadian Institute of Food Safety provides nationally recognized training programs to educate you on the complex topic of food safety. Contact us today to find out how we can help you improve your food handling skills.