Food safety tips
First and foremost, before making perishable food donations, check with the food bank or community kitchen to see if they can keep the foods safe until distributing, preparing or serving. This includes having sufficient space for proper storage, such as refrigeration (and hot holding if donating to a community kitchen).
1. Cook foods thoroughly.
- Cook foods to appropriate internal temperatures.
- Use a stem thermometer to check the internal temperature of foods. Do not guess when food is done.
2. Clean and sanitize food contact surfaces, equipment and utensils.
- Surfaces that come into contact with food should be smooth, non-porous, non-absorbent and easily cleanable.
- Clean and sanitize before and after use.
- At home, sanitizer can easily be made by mixing 1 teaspoon (tsp) of unscented household bleach in one liter of water.
- When washing dishes by hand, follow these steps in this order: wash, rinse, sanitize, air dry.
3. Store foods at proper temperatures.
- Maintain refrigerator temperature at or below 4oC (40oF), hot holding at or above 60 oC (140 oF) and freezer at -18oC (0oF) or colder. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
- Do not use or donate food that has been held in the danger zone for longer than 2 hours.
- Keep perishable foods cold or hot while transporting.
4. Separate raw from cooked and ready-to-eat foods and protect foods from contamination.
- Keep separate during preparation, storage, handling, bagging and transportation.
- Keep foods covered at all times, including during transport.
- Use food-grade containers with tight-fitting lids to store dry goods and non-perishables. Use only new food-grade materials when packaging and repackaging.
- Ensure there is an adequate supply of hot and cold potable running water.
5. Use good personal hygiene.
- Wash hands at all necessary times, i.e., before and after handling food, after using the washroom, before and after eating or smoking, and generally in between tasks.
- Use liquid or powdered soap in a dispenser
and single use towel for hand drying.
- Cover cuts and skin wounds on the hands and arms with a bandage, and if on the hand, disposable latex-free gloves should be worn.
- Wearing disposable gloves does not replace hand washing and gloves should be changed as often as hands need to be washed.
- Do not eat, drink or smoke while handling food.
- Wear clean outer garments.
- Do not handle food if you are ill and experiencing symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, fever, etc.
- Do not allow animals in the kitchen area while preparing food for donation.
Labeling and dating of foods
Food products offered at food banks are subject to the requirements of the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations as well as the Consumer Packaging Act and Regulations. For further information on labeling requirements, please consult the Guide to Food Labeling and Advertising on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) website.
Be sure to properly label foods when packaging. The food bank will need certain information and will have to label with the following information: list of ingredients, dates as were on original packages, and nutrition labeling requirements.