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Guidelines for Safe Food Handling

Sanitizing Solution

Use unscented chlorine bleach.

  • To sanitize cutting boards, surfaces etc., mix one tablespoon (15ml) in four litres (3.5quarts) of water.
  • To sanitize dishes, dishcloths, etc., mix one teaspoon (5ml) in four litres (3.5 quarts) of water.

Food Storage

  • If repackaging foods, date and label them before putting them away.
  • Always rotate stock (first in, first out).
  • Label bulk food products with the date and product name.
  • Avoid using products that are beyond the best before date.
  • Store raw meats or poultry on a plate, or in a container, below the other items in your refrigerator so that blood cannot drip onto anything else.
  • Store food separately from cleaning products and poisons so they cannot be accidentally mistaken. Avoid repackaging cleaning products and poisons to ensure they are identifiable.
  • Always refrigerate foods such as meat, dairy products, shelled eggs, etc. If left unrefrigerated, these foods allow bacteria to grow rapidly.

Food Preparation

  • Perform hand hygiene often and always before handling food, after handling raw foods or soiled utensils, equipment or garbage.
  • Avoid cross-contamination by remembering to wash and sanitize (one tablespoon/15ml unscented chlorine bleach in four litres/3.5 quarts water) cutting boards, counter tops and utensils after each use, especially after meat and poultry.
  • Ensure cutting boards have been sanitized (one tablespoon/15 ml unscented chlorine bleach in four litres/3.5 quarts water) if previously used by someone else.
  • Use utensils or wash hands well when handling ready-to-eat foods.
  • Do not use the same plate or utensils for raw meat and cooked meats.
  • Wipe up spills immediately. Bacteria grow very quickly and spread.
  • Defrost frozen foods in the refrigerator, microwave or under cold running water. Plan ahead so that you will not to have to thaw meat or poultry on the counter.
  • Do not thaw and then refreeze meats. Defrost as described above, cook, and then refreeze.

Cooking and food service

  • Keep hot foods hot (60°C/140°F or higher) and cold foods cold (4°C /40°F or lower).
  • Use a meat thermometer to ensure meat is properly cooked.
  • Cook or reheat all foods to a minimum of 74°C/165°F.
  • Cook poultry to an internal temperature of 85°C/180°F.
  • Ensure all ground meat and poultry are thoroughly cooked. Juices should run clear when the meat is cut.
  • Prepare and cook foods as close to the meal time as possible.
  • Avoid using raw eggs in ready-to-eat products such as Caesar salad and eggnog.


  • Perform hand hygiene before handling leftovers. Ensure all utensils and surfaces are clean.
  • Wrap leftovers and refrigerate immediately. Do not leave leftovers on the counter to cool.
  • Divide large quantities of leftovers into small containers so they cool more quickly.
  • Date leftovers before placing them in the refrigerator and then use or freeze them soon.

Remember: if in doubt, throw it out!

Facility maintenance and construction

  • Floors, walls and ceilings should be non-absorbent, smooth and easily cleanable.
  • Kitchen facilities should be washed daily to remove all visible dirt and debris.
  • Walls, grease vents and equipment should be kept clean and regularly washed.
  • Be alert for mice or insect infestations and take immediate action if evidence exists.

Equipment and utensils

  • Utensils should be washed, rinsed and sanitized (one teaspoon/5 ml unscented chlorine bleach in four litres/3.5 quarts water) after each use.
  • Counter tops and cutting boards should be washed and sanitized (one tablespoon/15ml unscented chlorine bleach in four litres/3.5 quarts water) after each use.
  • Refrigerators should be an adequate size for the volume of food stored inside and should be monitored with a thermometer.
  • Throw out worn or chipped cups, plates and utensils.
  • Do not reuse single-service utensils such as plastic spoons and forks.
  • Store wash cloths and table sponges during the day in a pail with sanitizing solution (one teaspoon/5 ml unscented chlorine bleach in four litres/3.5 quarts water).
  • Garbage containers should be durable, easily cleanable and rodent-proof. They should be covered at all times when not in use.


  • Food handlers should not smoke while preparing or serving food.
  • Use a clean utensil each time for food tasting (no double dipping).
  • Do not prepare food if you have sores or cuts on your hands, have a respiratory illness or gastrointestinal illness (nausea, vomiting or diarrhea).
  • Wear clean clothes and preferably wear a hair restraint (ex: a hair net).
  • Avoid touching your mouth or nose or wiping your hands on dish towels or aprons.
  • Perform hand hygiene:

– before and after eating;

– before and after cleaning a wound;

– before and after smoking;

– after handling raw food;

– after using the toilet or wiping nose;

– after contact with blood or body fluids/wastes;

– after handling soiled items or equipment (ex: after cleaning rooms or handling soiled linen); and

– after removing gloves.

Compiled from various sources

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