August 10, 2005
TORONTO (AUGUST 10, 2005) – The “back-to” in back-to-school means different things to everyone, but for many it’s the annual return to packed lunches. According to research compiled for The Canadian Partnership for Consumer Food Safety Education, many Canadians may be “out to lunch” when it comes to practicing the four key actions to avoid foodborne illnesses.
A recent poll1, conducted by Leger Marketing on behalf of The Canadian Partnership for Consumer Food Safety Education, showed that only one in ten (10%) thought that cleaning surfaces was the best way to keep bacteria at bay and avoid a foodborne illness when making lunch. For one in five (21%) of those polled, washing hands before handling food destined for lunch rose to the top and almost half (48%) think that keeping lunch cold until eating it was the best option.
“Obviously, the results of this research show that there is a need for education. Given this information, it’s not surprising that Health Canada estimates that there are 2 million cases of foodborne illness each year and proper food handling could reduce the risk of illness.” Says Brenda Watson, Executive Director, Canadian Partnership for Consumer Food Safety Education. “People need to FightBAC!® whenever they are handling food. There are actually four simple steps to follow: clean, separate, cook and chill. Following these basic steps will reduce the risk of foodborne illness and help ensure safer Canadian lunches.”
The Partnership reminds Canadians to keep in mind not just one, not two, not even three… but ALL FOUR of the following FightBAC!® food handling tips when preparing lunch for school or work:
Wash your hands and any utensils with hot soapy water before, during and after getting down to lunch preparation. Remember that to be effective, hand washing needs to last at least twenty seconds! All fruits and vegetables that are “lunch bag bound” need to be washed thoroughly by placing under running water and using a scrub brush.
Avoid cross contamination by separating raw from cooked food. Use different coloured cutting board for produce and one for raw meats and poultry. Always keep foods covered when preparing lunches.
Cook food thoroughly for lunches-- cooking times and temperatures vary for different meat and poultry. Prepare lunches quickly, and get them packed so they don't linger at room temperatures where bacteria can grow.
Keep hot food hot and cold food cold. Refrigerate lunches as soon as they are made and don’t leave food at room temperature for more than two hours. Make sure the refrigerator is set at a temperature of 4°C (40°F) at home and wherever you’ll be storing your lunch before it’s eaten. Pay special attention to keeping lunches cold wherever possible by using insulated lunch bags and/or ice-packs.
The Canadian Partnership for Consumer Food Safety Education is a national association of over 50 public and private organizations committed to educating Canadians about the ease and importance of safe food handling in the home. The Partnership created the website, www.canfightbac.org and adopted FightBAC® food safety mantra clean, separate, cook and chill to reduce foodborne illness in Canada.
For more useful safe food handling tips, visit The Canadian Partnership for Consumer Food Safety Education online at www.canfightbac.org.
For more information on food safety, visit the Canadian Food Inspection Agency Web site at www.inspection.gc.ca or Health Canada's Web site www.healthcanada.com.
 This study was conducted by Leger Marketing, Canada's largest independent full-service research firm, with a representative sample of 1,500 Canadians, 18 years of age or older. The results of this research are statistically significant to within +/- 2.6%, 19 times out of 20.