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- Area Residents Encouraged to Reduce Their Risk of Foodborne Illness When Barbecuing This Summer -

Developing a taste for food safety should be part of the routine when barbecuing meat this summer.

With as many as one in eight Canadians (or four million people) estimated to get sick from foodborne illness in any given year, the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit wants to reduce the risk of cases in its area as much as possible. That’s why the Health Unit is encouraging local residents to properly handle, prepare and cook meat on the barbecue.

“Barbecuing is a staple of Canadian summers, and we want local residents to enjoy a hamburger, chicken or rib without worries about getting sick,” says Richard Ovcharovich, the Manager of Environmental Health with the HKPR District Health Unit.

Barbecued meat that is raw or undercooked can mean bacteria such as E.coli and salmonella are still present in the food. This creates a health hazard for anyone who eats the contaminated food, Ovcharovich notes, leading to potential problems such as abdominal cramps, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. In severe cases, people can be hospitalized or die from foodborne illness.

To reduce the risk of illness, the Health Unit encourages a step-by-step approach to safe barbecuing:

  • Buyer beware. Buy only food that comes from an approved source. Never buy uninspected meat, and examine food and its packaging at the store before you purchase it.
  • Travel with care. When shopping, buy your meat last and keep raw meats separate from other foods. If possible, transport meat home in a cooler bag with ice packs during hot weather.
  • Store food right. Keep the fridge at 4ºC (40ºF) or less, and keep the freezer at -18ººC (0ºF) or less.
  • Get off to a clean start. Wash hands, utensils and surfaces with hot soapy water before, during and after preparing foods. Sanitize countertops, cutting boards and utensils with a mild bleach and water solution. Wash all produce thoroughly before preparing, eating or cooking.
  • Make sure it is thawed right. Thaw food in the refrigerator. Thawing food by running it under cold running water or in a microwave oven is also acceptable. Thawing food at room temperature is unsafe since this practice can allow bacteria to grow on food.
  • Properly cook meat on the barbecue. Raw and undercooked meats, especially poultry, are major sources of foodborne illness, so be extra careful. When barbecuing meat, use a meat thermometer to ensure the meat has reached a safe internal temperature. For beef, pork and ground beef, the internal temperature should reach 71ºC (160ºF). The safe internal temperature for chicken and other poultry items is slightly higher at 74 ºC (165ºF) or 82ºC (180ºF) for a whole chicken. Using pre-cooked meat or frozen hamburger is also a safer alternative than barbecuing fresh meat.
  • Remember the two-hour rule. Foods that are at risk of spoiling should not be left out at room temperature for more than two hours.

For more on barbecuing and food safety, call your local Health Unit office or visit


For media inquiries, contact:

Richard Ovcharovich, Manager of Environmental Health, HKPR District Health Unit, (705) 324-3569.

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«February 2019»