Summer Food Safety Tips from Toronto Public Health

Grilling outdoors is a good way to keep your home cooler during the hot weather and a great way to enjoy the summer. Toronto Public Health wants to ensure that residents take the proper precautions to create safe and healthy meals and prevent foodborne illness during warmer temperatures ahead of the long weekend.

Food served in any setting, including at home or outdoors, can become contaminated or unsafe to eat. Follow these four easy steps to make your meals a food safety success: clean, separate, cook and chill.


  • Wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds, before and after handling food.
  • Use clean water and soap to thoroughly wash all utensils, dinnerware, countertops and cutting boards before and after use.
  • Sanitize cooking equipment, utensils and work surfaces with a chemical such as a mild bleach solution. Rinse with fresh water and air dry.


  • Keep your raw meat, poultry and seafood separate from cooked or other ready-to-eat foods to avoid spreading harmful bacteria.
  • Use containers or re-sealable plastic bags to help prevent leaks and contamination of food and work surfaces


  • Cook raw meat, poultry, and seafood to a safe internal temperature to kill harmful bacteria such as E. coli, salmonella and listeria, as well as other micro-organisms such as viruses and parasites.
  • Use a digital food thermometer to check the internal temperature as you cook.


  • Don't keep food at room temperature for more than two hours.
  • Keep perishable foods cold. Use a cooler filled with ice packs to store your food on the go. The internal temperature of the food inside the cooler should be at or below 4°C (40°F).

Symptoms of foodborne illness range from an upset stomach to more serious symptoms, including diarrhea, fever, vomiting, abdominal cramps and dehydration. Symptoms can start within hours or days of eating contaminated food and usually last for one to three days. Most symptoms are resolved without medical treatment. For some people, especially the elderly, young children, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems, symptoms of foodborne illness can be more serious.

For more information on preventing foodborne illness and practicing food safety at home, visit