Albertans reminded to be food safe this holiday season

Take extra care when preparing, cooking, serving and storing food

Whether you’re baking goodies or preparing a family feast, it’s important to wash your hands often and prepare foods properly to reduce the risk of food-borne illness.

Food-borne illness — commonly known as food poisoning — is caused by eating food contaminated with certain bacteria, viruses or parasites. Examples of disease-causing organisms include salmonella, E. coli and Listeria.

These bacteria are sometimes found in:

• raw and undercooked meat, poultry, fish and their juices.

• unpasteurized (raw) milk and (raw) milk products, such as soft and semi-soft cheeses made from unpasteurized milk.

• raw and lightly cooked eggs.

• uncooked flour and uncooked products made with flour, such as dough.

As many of these foods are often part of holiday menus, Albertans are encouraged to take extra care when preparing, cooking, serving and storing food:

• keep hot foods hot (60 C or above) and cold foods cold (4 C or below).

• never leave meat, poultry, eggs, fish or shellfish (raw or cooked) at room temperature for more than two hours.

• do not reheat food that has been left out at room temperature for more than two hours. Reheating does NOT make it safe.

• chill leftovers as soon as you finish eating.

• store leftovers in small, shallow containers to cool rapidly.

Additionally, there’s an increase of home-prepared foods being offered for sale at this time of year.

This includes home-baked goods (cookies, squares, muffins, cakes, pies, etc.), beef jerky, cabbage rolls and perogies.

Alberta’s Food Regulation stipulates all food prepared, served or sold to the public must be from an approved facility. The only exception is food sold at Alberta-approved farmers’ markets.

The Food Regulation enables people to distribute homemade, low-risk foods from farmers’ markets or community organization functions when safe food-handling practices are followed.

The only way to ensure proper food handling and preparation procedures have been followed is to purchase goods from AHS-approved businesses.

Buyers are encouraged to ask to see a copy of the seller’s food-handling permit. Anyone with questions or complaints about the sale of home-prepared goods is asked to call their local Environmental Public Health Office.

For more information on food safety, health enforcement orders, starting and operating a food business in your home, including necessary forms, permits and a list of all AHS Environmental Public Health Offices, visit https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/EPH/EPH.aspx.

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