Ask a Food Safety Expert
Public health experts estimate that there are 11 to 13 million cases of foodborne illness in Canada every year. Most cases of foodborne illness can be prevented by following safe food handling practices and using a meat thermometer to check that your food is cooked to a safe internal temperature.
Maple Leaf has assembled a team of highly qualified experts, including members of our Dietitian Network to answer your food safety questions, led by Dr. Randy Huffman, Maple Leaf’s Chief Food Safety Officer. If you are looking for an answer on how to take control of food safety, check out our list of frequently asked questions or submit your question to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q & A with Experts
What are the most common mistakes when it comes to food safety?
There are four major areas in safe food handling that can be dangerous if not followed:
- Frequent hand washing in warm soapy water, particularly before preparing food and after handling raw meat
- Separating raw and ready-to-eat meats
- Cooking food to proper temperature
- Refrigerating perishables promptly
Which kind of cutting board is better, plastic or wood?
The choice is yours. What’s most important is to use one for raw meat, poultry and seafood and a separate one for ready-to-eat foods like vegetables. Make sure to wash cutting boards after each use and discard boards that are showing signs of wear, such as excessive cracks or crevices.
How long can I leave food out of the refrigerator?
Food should not be left out longer than two hours and in hot weather, no more than one hour since bacteria grows rapidly in warmer temperatures.
Is it OK to defrost foods, including meat, on the kitchen counter?
Never allow foods to defrost at room temperature. Most foodborne pathogens thrive at room temperature and can put you at risk for salmonella and other foodborne illnesses. The safest way to defrost frozen foods is in your refrigerator.
I bought too much turkey breast cold cuts can I freeze them?
Simply package them in an airtight freezer container or wrap and freeze for as long as 2-3 months.
How long can you keep sliced cold meat and still eat it?
As long as the meat has been refrigerated right away and wrapped well to keep it from drying out, it can be stored for 2 to 3 days.
Can you reheat meat leftovers the next day?
Yes, meat leftovers may be eaten cold or reheated to 165°F or 74°C.
Can you refreeze hot dogs that were thawed in the refrigerator?
Hotdogs can be thawed in the refrigerator and refrozen once. So before refreezing, divide the hotdogs into single use amounts.
How long can I store poultry in fridge?
Always check for and follow the "best before" date and storage instructions provided on the package. Generally, when stored in the refrigerator (4°C or 40°F), sealed whole birds can be kept for 2-3 days, sealed pieces for 2-3 days, and sealed ground meat for 1-2 days.
Does frozen chicken ever go bad?
Generally, when stored in the freezer (-18ºC or 0°F) and well-wrapped, whole birds can be kept up to 12 months, pieces for six months and ground meat for three months.
Do I have to wash meat before cooking?
It is not recommended as this can spread bacteria to kitchen surfaces and other foods.
Where do I insert the meat thermometer to check for the temperature?
Insert an oven-safe meat thermometer deep into thickest part, taking care not to touch any bones or fat.