Learn about food safety at work and at home

  • Safely handling food at home
  • Food safety and inspection for businesses
  • Donating food
  • What do you do with food after a fire?

If you handle food in a safe way at home and at work, you can prevent food borne illnesses and outbreaks.

  1. Safely handling food at home

    What's a foodborne illness?

    Foodborne illness happens when someone eats food contaminated with microscopic, disease-causing organisms, such as bacteria, viruses and parasites.

    Symptoms

    The most common symptoms occur several hours or several days after eating contaminated food:

    • stomach cramps;
    • nausea;
    • vomiting;
    • diarrhea;
    • headache;
    • fever; or
    • any combination of the above. 

    Symptoms will vary according to the type and amount of bacteria, viruses and parasites in the food.

    Who is more susceptible to severe bouts of foodborne illness?

    • Older adults
    • Young children
    • Pregnant women
    • People with weakened immune systems

    You can prevent foodborne illness with safe food handling

    There are many stages to safely handling food at home so none of your family members or friends get sick with a foodborne illness.

    • Before grocery shopping
    • At the grocery store
    • Transporting your groceries
    • After grocery shopping
    • While you're preparing your food
    • Serving your food
    • After the meal

    The food safety checklist for the home provides all the details to help you safely handle food.

    The food safety for older adults guide gives you the tips on how to:

    • wash food;
    • keep things clean;
    • store leftovers and canned foods;
    • cook meat to proper temperatures; and
    • handle high-risk foods.
  2. Food safety and inspection for businesses

    To prevent foodborne illnesses and outbreaks when you operate a food-service or preparation business, you have to consider:

    • safe handling of food;
    • your water supply; as well as
    • disposal of garbage and sewage.

    To make sure your business is operating safely, an environmental health officer will come by to do 1 of 2 types of inspections:

    • routine; or
    • complaint.

    The environment health officer may also provide education, and enforcement of regulations to ensure food safety.

    To find out what the environment health officer is looking for when inspecting your business. You can look at the food premises inspection document.

    Food safety for foodbanks

    We recognize it's important to feed the hungry. It's equally important to ensure that food distributed to the hungry is safe to consume.

    The food safety guidelines for food banks were adapted from other resources. These guidelines define a food bank as owned or operated by a non-profit organization, and providing food to the hungry. The food is intended to be consumed at a person's home. The foodbank:

    • receives;
    • holds;
    • packages;
    • processes; or
    • distributes food.

     

    The guidelines cover:

    • personal cleanliness;
    • contamination protection;
    • salvageable food;
    • equipment and utensils;
    • sanitary facilities and controls;
    • garbage and refuse;
    • insect, rodent and animal control;
    • construction and maintenance of facilities;
    • locker area;
    • vehicles;
    • employee and volunteer training; and
    • public and client information.
  3. Donating food

    You can donate catered food left over from a meeting or event to an organization like Kaushee's Place or the Salvation Army. The Donating Food Act outlines how you can safely donate food.

    What food can you donate?

    • Food prepared in a commercial kitchen
    • Fresh or frozen produce
    • Menu, buffet or catered entrées prepared, but not served
    • Commercially canned and packaged goods
    • Commercially frozen meats or refrigerated deli meats
    • Dairy products or graded eggs

    What food can you not donate?

    • Food prepared in your home kitchen
    • Home-canned goods
    • Wildgame because it hasn't been inspected at a facility
    • Food that's already been served to someone else, such as a half-pan of lasagna or a partly eaten cheese platter from a buffet table
    • Food that's spoiled
    • Food that's unsafe for people to eat 
    • Food past its best-before or expiry date

    How do you safely handle the food you want to donate?

    • Store and transport food in clean and covered food-grade containers.
    • Keep hot foods at 60⁰C (140°F)or higher.
    • Keep cold foods at 4⁰C (40°F) or lower.
    • Label food containers with type of food, and the date and time of preparation.
    • Make sure food is collected and donated as quickly as possible.
  4. What do you do with food after a fire?

    When cleaning up after a fire, wash your hands well and frequently. Do this especially before eating and when you're done.

    You should throw away all food that has come into contact with water, smoke or as been damaged by heat. Also throw away food that was:

    • perishable, such as meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products, especially if electricity was lost;
    • not packaged in waterproof, sealed, and easily cleanable containers;
    • in paper, plastic, cloth, and cardboard containers;
    • bottled, such as drink products and any container with a screw-top lid;
    • canned if the seal is damaged, the can is bloated or dented, the contents show signs of seepage or you suspect that there's heat damage; and
    • frozen, but may have thawed and then become re-frozen, or if the food temperature went above 4°C (40°F).

    Washing and sanitize with chlorine solution

    All contaminated utensils and dishes.

    Food-contact services

    Cutting boards and counter tops need to be washed with warm soapy water, rinsed, and then sanitized with a chlorine solution for 2 minutes. Leave these surfaces to air dry.

    Chlorine solution

    Combine:

    • ½ ounce, 1 tablespoon or 15 millilitres of 5% to 6% household bleach; with
    • 1 litre  or 4½ cups of water.

    Septic tanks and disposal fields:

    Usually, fire won't affect your septic tanks or the sewage-disposal field. If it does affect the pipes in your home:

    • check to see if the system is working properly; or
    • phone 867-667-8391 if you have doubts about how the septic system is working.

    You can use the food safety after a fire handout as a guide.


Contact 

If you have questions, email environmental.health@gov.yk.ca, or phone: 867-667-8391, toll-free within Yukon 1-800-661-0408, extension 8391. You can drop by the Environmental Health Services office. In person: #2 Hospital Road in Whitehorse. Our office is open Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.