Labeling and dating of foods
- Be sure to properly label foods when repackaging. Include the list of ingredients, the dates as were on original packages as well as nutrition labeling requirements.
- Check date markings on foods to ensure proper stock rotation. If a food item is near the end of its shelf life (i.e., expiry date or best before date), be sure to advise the client of this. Do not sell food that has passed its expiry date.
- 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.
Food safety tips
A log of food donations should be kept by the food bank. This log should be completed upon receipt of food donations and serves to verify that foods are properly labeled, in good condition, at the proper temperature, etc.. You may wish to use the template included at the end of this sheet.
Before accepting perishable food donations, make sure you are able to keep the foods safe until distributing, preparing or serving, such as having sufficient space for proper storage, including refrigeration and hot holding.
It is highly recommended that food donations not be accepted where there is uncertainty as to how the food was handled or stored prior to receiving.
All foods should be properly labeled upon receipt as well as distribution.
1. Food handling
- Wash hands as often as is necessary, i.e., before starting work, after using the washroom, before and after eating or smoking, before and after handling any food, and generally in between tasks.
- Cuts and skin wounds on the hands and arms should be covered with a bandage, and if on the hand, disposable latex-free gloves should be worn. Wearing disposable gloves does not replace hand washing. Hand washing is still necessary before and after putting on a pair of gloves and gloves should be changed as often as hands need to be washed.
- Do not handle food if you are ill and experiencing symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, fever, etc.
- Do not allow live animals or birds in the premises other than a trained service animal.
2. Protect foods from contamination
- Ensure the foods have been held at proper temperatures and outside of the temperature danger zone [4 to 60oC (40 to 140oF)]. Discard food that has been held in the danger zone for longer than 2 hours. Freezer temperature should be -18oC (0oF) or colder.
- Keep raw foods separate from ready-to-eat foods during preparation, storage, handling, bagging and transportation. Color-coded cutting boards are always a good idea.
- Store raw foods below cooked foods and raw eggs.
- Keep foods covered at all times.
- 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.
- Store foods away from plumbing pipes or any other pipes.
- • Store foods up off of the floor to prevent contamination and facilitate cleaning.
- Store chemicals away from food and ensure they are clearly labeled with the name.
3. Transportation of food
- Keep perishable foods cold [4oC (40oF)] or hot [60oC (140oF)] during transport.
- Keep foods covered during transport.
- Maintain vehicles in a clean and sanitary condition.
4. Food contact surfaces, equipment and utensils
- Surfaces that come into contact with food should be smooth, non-absorbent and easily cleanable.
- Clean and sanitize surfaces and equipment before and after use.
- Use appropriate test strips to test the sanitizer strength. Using too little sanitizer will not achieve the desired result and using more than needed will not achieve a better result. The most commonly used sanitizers are quaternary ammonium (QUAT), chlorine, and more recently, accelerated hydrogen peroxide.
- Have dishwashing facilities available. Even though food banks do not prepare foods, they may subdivide food into smaller quantities and repackage. Equipment and utensils used for this purpose should be washed, rinsed, sanitized and then air-dried after each use.
5. Employees and volunteers
- Those handling food should employ good personal hygiene practices, such as the following:
- Wash hands at all necessary times;
- not eat, drink or smoke while handling food;
- wear clean outer garments;
- and not handle food while ill.
- It is important that those who handle food are properly trained and have safe food handling knowledge.
6. Physical facility
- Maintain the facility in a clean and sanitary manner and in a good state of repair.
- There should be adequate lighting in all areas. Protective light covers are recommended to prevent broken glass from falling into food.
- The facility should have sufficient ventilation to prevent condensation from dripping onto food items.
- Have a hand wash sink available that is equipped with liquid or powdered soap in a dispenser and single use towel for hand drying.
- Provide staff access to a washroom.
- Keep the facility free of pests.
7. Water and waste water
- Ensure there is an adequate supply of hot and cold potable running water.
- Wastewater must be disposed of using an approved method.
8. Solid waste disposal
- Keep garbage in leak proof, non-absorbent containers with tight-fitting covers. Garbage containers should be cleaned on a regular basis.
- Keep the outside garbage area clean and free of debris.