How to prevent food poisoning

Summer brings increased risk of foodborne illness

Food poisoning affects four million Canadians each year, with cases of particular foodborne illnesses spiking in the warmer weather. One of the prime reasons is people tend to eat outside more during the summer months and this can make handwashing and utensil hygiene difficult. As well, proper refrigeration is not often available and bacteria flourish in the warmth and humidity. Food poisoning symptoms can vary, but the most common include (but not limited to) nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, diarrhea, and fever — a recipe to ruin any summer gathering.

Here are a few helpful tips to prevent food poisoning:

  1. Wash your hands and clean all cutlery, dishes, and surfaces before, during, and after food prep.
  2. Wash all produce thoroughly, but don’t rinse your meat as doing so can spread contamination.
  3. Keep foods separate. Produce and meat should be prepared on different surfaces and kept in sealed containers. If you must store them together in a cooler, keep meat on the bottom to avoid cross-contamination of juices.
  4. Use a meat thermometer to ensure your food is cooked safely. Safe temperatures can range from 63°C for a medium-rare steak to 82°C for a whole chicken.
  5. Keep your food refrigerated below 4°C, and don’t let anything sit out for longer than two hours. This includes cooked foods, which should be eaten immediately after serving.
  6. Don’t be fooled by the thought that plant-based foods can’t spoil in the heat. Bacteria can grow on any food under the right conditions and cause serious illness.

If you get struck with food poisoning or feel unwell this summer and don’t have access to a doctor, you can see a doctor online in minutes, 24/7 on Maple. Get health advice, prescriptions, lab requisitions, and more, anytime, anywhere. ivari critical illness policyholders can get more information on their Maple coverage at

These tips originally appeared in an article from Maple’s blog: Food poisoning in summer: how to prevent it

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