Social and Health Services – Community Health offers safe food handling courses for any community members wishing to be certified in safe food handling, either in an occupational role or volunteer capacity.
The monthly courses are offered to community members and are roughly eight hours each with a test at the conclusion, that if successfully passed, will enable participants to receive official government certification that will look great on a resume or advertising for a home catering business, for example. It can reassure people that you are well-trained in safe food handling before hiring you or your services.
The course is facilitated by Peter W. Hill, environmental health officer with the Health Canada First Nations and Inuit Health Branch, Ontario Region. There are numerous tips and tools of the trade to learn when it comes to safe food handling to avoid foodborne illnesses when feeding large groups of people, but here is just a miniscule sampling of some of the tips participants learned at the course in the Social and Health Services teen room on Sept. 14:
Combat cross-contamination by ensuring surfaces that meats have contacted are thoroughly washed before preparing another food item. For example: chopped up, raw meat on a cutting board that will later be used to chop up onions. Clean and sanitize counter tops, cutting boards and utensils with a mild bleach solution (5mL or 1 tsp. bleach per 750 mL/3 cups of water) before and after food preparation. Avoid using sponges to wipe down surfaces because they are harder to keep bacteria-free.
Cook to proper temperatures in order to kill any possible bacteria that can cause foodborne illness. Cooking times vary for meats, poultry and fish. Contact your local health authority for guidelines on how to ensure proper internal cooking temperatures have been reached for various types of meats. Following cooking, foods must be kept out of the danger zone (temperatures that allow infectious pathogens to multiply) by preparing them quickly and serving them quickly. The “danger zone” that creates ideal conditions for sitting, cooked food is 4 C to 60 C or 40 F to 140 F. Buffet-style food should be kept hot at 60 C or 140 F or higher, in chafing dishes, crock pots and warming trays.
Cooling encompasses thawing and storage. Never thaw frozen foods at room temperature. Thaw food in the fridge, cold water, or the microwave on the “defrost” setting if cooking immediately. Refrigerate or freeze perishables, prepared foods and leftovers within two hours or less. Cold foods should be kept at 4 C or lower.
Serving, preserving and transporting food:
Keep all perishable foods chilled right up until serving. Keep hot foods (soups, chili, dips) piping hot until ready to serve. Use ice packs or a cooler when transporting cold foods. When running errands, do your grocery shopping last so it doesn’t sit in your hot or warm car, spoiling any foods that should be kept cold.
Thoroughly wash fresh produce to remove dirt and residue. Cut away damaged or bruised parts of produce. Bacteria thrive in these areas. Wash your hands for 20 seconds when preparing food. Wash kitchen prep areas, lunch boxes, utensils and pots and pans thoroughly and daily.
To sign up for an upcoming course or to learn more, contact:
Community Health Representative
Social and Health Services – Community Health Unit
(905) 768-0141 ext. 241