Summer food safety tips

Vegetable skewers, corn on the cob, and meats on a barbeque.

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Canada’s changing seasons

Summer means warmer temperatures for us. This also means you have to change the way you store and handle food. Harmful bacteria grow faster in warm and moist conditions. This makes food spoil quicker.

Follow these food safety tips:

Basic food safety tips:

Storing food

Do not leave food outside at room temperature for more than an hour. Keep it out of the temperature danger zone of 4 °C to 60 °C. Harmful bacteria grow quickly in this temperature range.

Refrigerate or freeze fresh food after grocery shopping. Get the fridge and freezer storage chart to know the right temperature to store meat, fish, diary and produce.

Eat leftovers in the fridge within 3-4 days. Reheat the food before serving.

Don’t leave marinating meat on the table or counter. Put it inside the fridge or a cooler. Never use leftover marinade on cooked food.

When barbecuing

Store food in a cooler filled with ice packs. Put raw meat in sealed containers so their juices won’t leak and reach other items. Use a separate cooler for drinks and keep it out of direct sunlight.

What is cross contamination?
Cross contamination is when bacteria is transferred from one substance to another. For example, bacteria from raw meat can spread to vegetables and fruits when it is not kept in a sealed container.

How to prevent cross contamination when cooking:

  1. Use separate containers for raw and cooked food.
  2. Use separate cutting boards, utensils and dishes when preparing food.
  3. Wash your hands and utensils before handling raw ingredients.

Tips for barbecuing

  1. Thaw meat completely so that it cooks evenly. Do this in the refrigerator not on the counter.
    You can also use the microwave but you have to cook the meat immediately after defrosting.
  2. Clean the grill before barbecuing. Use a brush, steel wool or crumpled aluminum foil to remove rust and dirt. Be careful when using a barbecue brush. Bristles can get loose and stick to the grill.
    These metal parts can be transferred to the food and injure you or your family.
  3. Use a digital food thermometer to make sure food is cooked and bacteria-free. Barbecued meat can look cooked on the outside but raw inside. Print the Safe Internal Cooking Temperatures chart to guide you .

Food shopping

Get frozen or refrigerated food like meat, fish, poultry, cheeses and ice cream last. Put raw meat, fish and poultry in separate bags. Use a different bag for vegetables and fruits. If you live far from the store, use a cooler in your car for storing food that spoil easily. Store them quickly in your freezer when you get home.

Buy fresh produce in summer from supermarkets or farmers’ markets. Some farmer’s markets are closed due to the pandemic but may offer online service. Orders are for pick-up or shipping. Check the Farmers’ Markets Association of Manitoba Co-Op website.

Catching the coronavirus is an ongoing concern. Continue to follow physical distancing and sanitation guidelines. Read Healthy grocery shopping habits to protect yourself (and your family) from the virus for more tips.

Four simple steps to remember when handling food:

  1. Clean

    Wash your hands with warm water and soap. Do this 20 seconds before and after handling food. Wash hands and surfaces often.

  2. Separate

    Don’t cross contaminate.

  3. Cook

    Make sure that food is cooked well. Check the internal temperature.

  4. Chill

    Chill leftovers and takeout foods within two hours. The right temperature for chilling food is below 4°C.

Article updated June 21, 2021.
Sources: Seasonal Food Safety, The Government of Canada; Summer and Vacations,; and What can I do to keep my food safe?,Dieticians of Canada. Retrieved and updated April 17, 2018.

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