What You Should be Aware of Food Safety

Make the most out of your summer with these tips.

Rosanna Lee
Rosanna Lee

Rosanna Lee is a registered dietitian with the College of Dietitians of Ontario. She graduated from Ryerson University and D’Youville College, and has two graduate degrees and more than 1200 hours of clinical training. Rosanna provides nutrition and health workshops and one-on-one nutrition counselling for clients. In addition to her clinical practice, Rosanna is also a food product consultant, brand marketer and nutrition educator. Her work is often featured in Global News, Huffington Post Canada, and Healthy Directions Magazine.

  • LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/rosannaleerd
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  • Email: rosannaleerd@gmail.com
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Food allergies and intolerances

Experimenting with new foods is always fun but be on the alert and avoid any foods that cause discomfort (i.e. tingling, itching, hives, swelling, trouble breathing, nausea, vomiting, pain, diarrhea or dizziness). Some of these symptoms may be a sign of a food allergy or an intolerance.

A common allergy symptom that happens year-round is called oral allergy syndrome (OAR) or also known as pollen-food allergy syndrome, in which you feel your mouth, throat, and tongue gets itchy or swells up a bit after eating a food. According to allergists, this is the result of a cross-reaction between the pollen and the raw fruit, vegetable, or tree nut(s) when you eat the food.

If you or your loved ones have an allergy or intolerance, it is important to be knowledgeable and exercise good practices:

  1. Thoroughly read the ingredients list (even when a product may state it is “free from” a specific ingredient(s).
  2. Avoid buying foods without an ingredient label (unless you know for certain what the ingredients are. It is best to call the company to verify).
  3. Avoid buying foods from bulk bins due to the risk of allergen cross-contamination.
  4. Be mindful of non-food products, such as vitamins, skin creams, and pet foods that may expose you to food allergens (i.e. some finger paints contain egg-based ingredients).
  5. Avoid foods that have a precautionary statement on the label. Research has found that some products with these statements have been found to contain enough allergens to cause an allergic reaction.

It is important to know the priority food allergens in North America: eggs, milk, mustard, peanuts, crustaceans and molluscs, fish, sesame seeds, soy, sulphites, tree nuts, wheat and triticale. These major food allergens must be declared on all food labels. If you suspect you have a food intolerance or allergy, it is important to visit your doctor and dietitian right away so the issue can be resolved in a timely manner.

Keeping food safe

Nothing screams summer more than the smell of BBQs at outdoor gatherings with friends, co-workers and family. Food tends to spoil a lot faster in the warmer weather. Heat and humidity are perfect conditions for bacteria to grow and thrive. The rule of thumb is to keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. For cold foods use ice packs, insulated bags or containers if you are bringing food outdoors. Where possible, freeze foods the night before so you can keep them in a safe temperature zone when you pack them away (at or below 4C or 40F). For hot foods, make sure they are well-insulated, so the temperature does not drop into the danger zone (keep hot foods at or above 60C or 140F). Keeping a thermometer around is a good idea to ensure your food is temperature safe.

The danger zone (between 4C to 60C or 40F to 140F) is the temperature where bacteria grows most rapidly. They double in number in as little as 20 minutes. Here are the minimum internal temperatures recommended for the following foods:

  • 74 C or 165 F – raw meats, poultry, stuffing, casseroles, and reheated leftovers
  • 71 C or 160 F – egg dishes and ground meats
  • 63 C or 145 F – beef, pork, lamb, veal, roasts, steaks, chops
  • 60 C or 140 F – fully cooked ham (for reheating)

Rosanna Lee

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