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August 1, 2007
Outdoor food safety tips
Everyone loves a barbeque; unfortunately, so do bacteria that can make people sick. With the free and easy feel of outdoor cooking and eating, it’s easy to forget that the rules of safe food we use indoors still apply outdoors. Cases of food borne illness increase significantly during the summer months and outdoor picnics and barbeques are suspected of being a major cause.

“We are currently following up on an outbreak of E. coli that happened at a picnic in July. We know of 54 people who were sick,” said Dr. Herveen Sachdeva, Associate Medical Officer of Health, Toronto Public Health. “Food poisoning can cause very serious health problems, including kidney failure from certain types of E. coli infections.”

E. coli, salmonella, and campylobacter are some of the bacteria that can affect people through the food they eat. Symptoms of food poisoning include diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting. Anyone experiencing symptoms should seek medical attention immediately. The earlier the diagnosis and treatment, the better are the chances of a full recovery. In addition, some bacteria like E. coli can be contagious, especially among family members and people who live in the same household.

The top food safety tips for picnics and barbeques:
  • Cook ground beef and chicken thoroughly until the juices run clear and the meat is no longer pink.
  • Transport food in chilled containers and separate raw and cooked foods.
  • Do not reuse marinade unless it is cooked and brought to a full boil first to destroy any harmful bacteria.
  • When taking food off the grill, use a clean platter. Don't put cooked food on the same platter that held raw meat or poultry.
  • Wash your hands regularly to reduce the potential spread of illness to others.

Toronto is Canada’s largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.6 million people. It is the economic engine of Canada and one of the greenest and most creative cities in North America. In the past three years Toronto has won more than 50 awards for quality and innovation in delivering public services. Toronto’s government is dedicated to prosperity, opportunity and liveability for all its residents.

Media contact:
Rishma Govani, Toronto Public Health, 416-338-7974



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