Summer food safety tips

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

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Canada’s changing seasons

  1. Storing food is different in summer.
  2. Foods spoil faster with the heat.
  3. Foods need more care. Harmful bacteria grows faster in warm and moist conditions. This causes food to spoil quickly.

Basic food safety tips:

Storing food

  1. Do not leave food outside for more than an hour.
    • Keep food out of the temperature danger zone of 4 °C to 60 °C.
    • Harmful bacteria grow quickly in this temperature range.
    • Never leave food at room temperature for more than an hour.
  2. Refrigerate or freeze fresh food after grocery shopping.
  3. Know how long food leftovers have been in the fridge.
    • Eat leftovers within 3-4 days.
    • Reheat the food before serving.
  4. Download the fridge and freezer storage chart on
    • It is a guide. It shows the right temperature for storing:
      • meat
      • poultry
      • fish
      • cold cuts
      • leftovers
      • eggs
      • dairy
      • vegetables
    • It shows how long you can keep them.
  5. Don’t leave marinating meat on the table or counter.
    • Refrigerate. Put it inside a cooler.
    • Don’t use leftover marinade on cooked food.

When barbecuing

  1. Bring a cooler during a barbecue or picnic.
    • Store food in a cooler filled with ice packs.
    • Put raw meat in sealed containers. Juices won’t leak out and cross-contaminate other items in the cooler.
    • Use a separate cooler for drinks.
    • Keep cooler out of direct sunlight.
  2. Avoid cross contamination.
    • Cross-contamination is when bacteria are transferred from one substance to another.
    • Bacteria from raw meat can reach vegetables and fruits when it is not kept in sealed containers.
    • When cooking:
      • Use separate containers for raw and cooked food.
      • Use separate cutting boards, utensils, and dishes when preparing food.
    • Wash your hands and utensils before handling raw ingredients.
    • Thaw meats completely.
      • Thaw meats completely so that they cook evenly.
      • Thaw meats in the refrigerator not on the counter.
      • Use microwave to defrost. Cook the meat immediately after.
    • Clean the grill.
      • Remove the rust and dirt from the grill before barbecuing.
      • Use a brush or use steel wool.
      • Use crumpled aluminum foil.
    • Check the bristles of the barbecue brush.
      • Bristles can get loose and stick to the grill.
      • Bristles can be transferred to the food. This can injure you and your family.
    • Use a food thermometer.
      • Bacteria on food survive because of improper heating and preparation.
      • Meat color is not a good indicator that it is fully cooked and bacteria-free.
      • Check the internal temperature of cooked food. Use a digital food thermometer.
      • The Safe Internal Cooking Temperatures chart is a good guide.

Shopping for food

  1. Buy frozen or refrigerated food in the grocery last.
    • Pick up meat, fish, poultry, cheeses, and ice cream last.
    • Store them quickly in your freezer when you get home.
  2. Separate food
    • Put raw meat, fish, and poultry in individual bags.
    • Use different bag for vegetables and fruits.
    • Use a cooler in your car for storing food that spoil easily.
  3. Buy fresh produce.
    • Farmers’ markets open on weekends in the summer.
    • They sell locally grown fruits, vegetables, meat, fish and dairy.
    • Check the Farmers’ Markets Association of Manitoba Co-Op website.
    • Buy fruits and vegetables that are free of bruises and blemishes.

Four simple steps to remember when handling food:

  1. Clean

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

    Don’t cross contaminate.

  3. Cook

    Observe the proper internal temperature of cooked foods.

  4. Chill

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

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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