Your Health at Home
What are the Health Effects?
Foodborne illness occurs when a person gets sick from eating food that has been contaminated with an unwanted micro-organism, such as a bacteria, virus or parasite. This type of illness is also known as food poisoning.
The most common symptoms of foodborne illness include stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever. Many cases of foodborne illness are not reported because the signs often resemble the stomach flu.
While most people fully recover from foodborne illnesses, they can result in chronic health problems in some cases.
Although food handling practices that minimize the number of bacteria in food must be employed at all stages of commercial processing, consumers also have an important role to play in practicing safe food handling techniques in the home.
Tips - What can you do?
- Always wash your hands and cooking surfaces with soap and hot water before you handle food. Do this often while you prepare the food, and again when you have finished. Sanitize countertops, cutting boards and utensils with a freshly made mild bleach solution (15-20 ml bleach in 1 L of water).
- Make sure you try to wash dishes and clean up food residues right away after each meal.
- Wash all fresh fruits and vegetables under cool running water before you eat or cook them.
- Clean country food (fish, caribou, deer, seal, etc.) outside when it is possible to do so. This will reduce exposure to unwanted bacteria and dander. When cleaning country food indoors, clean and disinfect the counters, cutting boards, and knives completely when you are finished.
- Keep foods like meats and their juices away from other foods during storage and preparation.
- Have separate cutting boards for raw meats and for vegetables or cooked foods.
- Cooking times vary for meats and fish. After they are cooked, keep meats and fish out of the "danger zone"- between 4°C to 60°C (or 40°F to 140°F) by preparing them quickly and serving them right away. Do not let food sit at temperatures where bacteria can grow (in the danger zone). Keep hot foods, hot and cold foods, cold.
- Refrigerate or freeze foods that can spoil, as well as cooked food and leftovers within two hours. Make sure the refrigerator is set at a temperature of 4°C (40°F) or colder, and keep the freezer set at -18°C (0°F).
- Store food in containers with lids or resealable bags.
- Consult your local, provincial or territorial governments for information about amount of locally caught fish that is safe to eat in certain regions (to avoid excess mercury from fish).
- Pregnant and nursing women, as well as children, should avoid certain organs, such as the liver and kidneys of wildlife.
Learn More About Food Safety