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Healthy living

Food safety

The goal of Ottawa Public Health’s food safety program is to reduce the incidence of food poisoning in Ottawa by:

Ottawa Public Health is a proud member of the Canadian Partnership for Consumer Food Safety Education. If you have any questions, please call Ottawa Public Health at 613-580-6744.

Food poisoning

"Food poisoning" is a general term used to describe a food-borne illness that usually results from eating food or drinking water contaminated by disease-causing bacteria (germs) or their toxins (poisons).

What are the signs and symptoms of food poisoning?

Typical symptoms of food poisoning are:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach cramps

These symptoms may accompany fever, chills, loss of appetite, or headache.

Often people describe these symptoms as the "stomach flu." If you suffer from mild or severe symptoms, consult your physician and notify Ottawa Public Health at 613-580-6744.

Keeping foods safe

Kill or reduce the number of food poisoning bacteria in foods we prepare by:

Cleaning

Wash your hands especially after sneezing, smoking, coughing, using the washroom, touching pets, changing diapers, or touching raw meats or eggs. Wash them for at least 15 seconds with soap.

Remember that unwashed utensils, cutting boards, and hands can transfer bacteria from raw to cooked foods. A mixture of household bleach and water (approximately one capful of bleach to one cup of water) is a handy sanitizing solution.

Wash all vegetables and fruits, including those that you peel or cut, like melons, oranges and cucumbers.

 

Cooking

Never use leftover marinade for basting or as a sauce unless you boil it first

Chicken and turkey

Turkey or chicken and dressing should be cooked separately. Whole cooked turkey or chicken should register an internal temperature of 82°C (180F) on a cooking thermometer for 15 seconds. Cook pieces/leftovers of turkey or chicken to an internal temperature of 74°C (165F) on a cooking thermometer for 15 seconds.

Fish

Fish must be cooked and register an internal temperature of 70°C (158F) on a cooking thermometer for 15 seconds.

Pork

Pork products, including ham and pork tourtiere must be cooked and register an internal temperature of 71°C (160F) on a cooking thermometer for 15 seconds.

Ground beef or hamburger meat

All ground beef must be thoroughly cooked to minimum internal temperature of 71°C. Do not rely on the colour of the meat or juices to determine if your hamburger is cooked. The only way you will know if your burger has reached the proper temperature is to use a probe thermometer. It must be placed into the thickest part of the meat. Never eat a hamburger that is pink in the middle.

Chilling

Meats, eggs and dairy products should be kept at a maximum of 4°C (40 F). Keep cold foods cold – place an ice pack or a frozen drink in your lunch bag to ensure that food is kept cold until lunchtime.

Defrosting

Thaw foods in the refrigerator. Turkey or chicken should be thawed in the refrigerator and never at room temperature.

Separating

Double bag raw meat, when storing it in the bottom of your refrigerator or when bringing it home from the grocery store. Drippings from meat can contaminate other foods with food poisoning bacteria.

When barbequing, always use separate plates and utensils for the raw hamburgers and the cooked hamburgers.

Pasteurized milk and juices

Unpasteurized milk and juices can carry a number of disease-causing bacteria, so it’s recommended to only drink pasteurized products.

Raw egg products

Foods like eggnog, hollandaise sauce and Caesar salad dressing may contain raw eggs. Ottawa Public Health strongly recommends preparing these products fresh every day and using pasteurized eggs in these products.

Safe drinking water supply

Untreated water can carry a number of disease-causing bacteria. If access to safe drinking water is unavailable, be sure to bring it to a rolling boil for at least one minute before consumption.

What to do if you have a power blackout

Avoid opening the refrigerator door to keep its contents cold. Food in most freezers should remain frozen for 24 to 48 hours without power. If perishable food thaws in the freezer, it can be used safely as long as it stays cold. It is best to cook it within a day. Don't eat thawed, warm meat. In the winter, you can store all perishable food outside in protective containers in the snow.

Caregiver Guide

Ottawa Public Health (OPH) adapted the Caregiver Compass with permission from Saint Elizabeth to create the Ottawa Public Health Caregiver Guide. Saint Elizabeth is an agency that has been caring for individuals and families in their homes for over a century.

Learn More

Baby Formula

If you have made the informed decision to give your baby formula please see the information below on how to safely prepare, store and provide formula.

Tips for feeding formula

  • Give your baby only iron fortified formula 
  • Speak with your baby’s health care provider before changing infant formula
  • Do not put your baby to bed with a bottle
  • Watch for feeding cues and signs that your baby is full
  • Read the labels carefully and check the expiry date on all formula packages. Make sure cans are clean and have no dents.
  • If your baby is not breastfed, iron-fortified infant formula is the only food that should be given for the first 6 months. It should be used until your baby is 9 to 12 months old and able to eat a variety of food.
  • Every baby needs a different amount of infant formula. Your baby may drink a little more or less than other babies.
  • Never replace formula with 1%, 2%, skim milk, coffee whitener, condensed evaporated milk, or soy or rice beverages

Tips for feeding infant formula [ PDF - 48 KB ]

Types of Formula 

There are three types of formula that offer proper nutrition for your baby and meet Health Canada standards.

Infant formula type Cost Mixing directions/How To prepare Storage

Liquid Concentrate

More expensive than powdered

Follow exact instructions for mixing as listed on the product. For infants up to 4 months of age it is important to mix formula with water that has been boiled.

*Sterile product when unopened. After opening, cover the can tightly with a lid and refrigerate. Read the labels for specific storage instructions.

Ready to feed

Most costly and convenient

Does not require any mixing or water

*Sterile product when unopened. After opening, twist the cap back on and refrigerate. Read the label for specific storage instructions.

Powdered

Important information for babies with specific health conditions. Please see below. **

Least expensive

Follow exact instructions for mixing as listed on the product.  Always mix formula with water that has been boiled. Prepared formula should be given or stored right after it has cooled.

Not a *sterile product. After opening, cover the can with the lid. Store in a cool, dark place for no more than 30 days.

*Sterile: A product that does not contain harmful bacteria and does not pose a risk of infection.
**Powdered infant formula may contain bacteria. It is safer to use a sterile liquid infant formula to feed premature and low birth weight infants under two months of age and babies with weakened immune systems. If you are using powdered infant formula water should be boiled for 2 minutes and cooled to no less than 70 C (takes about 30 minutes) before mixing as per the packaging instructions. The prepared formula should be given immediately after it has cooled to the right temperature.

How to sterilize equipment

Follow these steps to keep your baby safe. Sterilize equipment until your baby is at least 4 months old.
Electric kettles and dishwashers do not sterilize equipment.

What you need

A large pot with lid, bottle brush and nipple brush, tongs, knife, fork, can opener, glass measuring cup, glass bottles (if possible), nipples, caps, rims, mixing jugs and any other equipment.

If using a disposable system

Bottle holders, rims, caps, nipples and a roll of disposable liners. Throw out liners after one use. Throw out nipples when they become soft and sticky. *Note: If using disposable bottles sterilize only the nipples.

Steps

  • Wash hands and counter with soap and water
  • Wash all items in warm, soapy water
  • Make sure holes in nipples are not clogged
  • Rinse well
  • Put clean items in a pot and fill pot with water
  • Boil for 2 minutes and keep pot covered until items are needed
  • Remove items with tongs and set on a clean paper towel

How to sterilize equipment [PDF 68 KB]

Making and storing formula

Each type of formula is made differently. Follow exact instructions listed on the product.

Mixing your baby's formula

  • Unsoftened tap water, bottled water and well water can be used to mix your baby's formula. However, none of these types of water are sterile.
  • Well water should be tested at least twice a year for bacteria and nitrates. For more information about well water testing or contact Ottawa Public Health at 613-580-6744 ext. 23806.
  • Do not use mineral water, distilled water, carbonated water or softened tap water for formula preparation.
  • Boil any kind of water for 2 minutes for babies until they are 4 months old. Use a pot on the stove or an electric kettle to sterilize water.
  • Boiled water can be stored in a covered sterile container for up to 3 days in the fridge or for 24 hours at room temperature.
  • If travelling, boil water at home and measure the correct amount of cooled boiled water into a sterilized container. If you are unsure about the safety of the water where you will be visiting ask your health care provider

How to prepare infant formula

For healthy-term infants

  1. Wash hands and counter with soap and water
  2. Run cold water for at least 2 minutes (use approved filter if you have lead pipes), boil water for 2 minutes and let it cool and use within 30 minutes
  3. Have sterilized equipment ready on a clean paper towel
  4. Read the label carefully, it will tell you how much formula and water to use. It could harm your baby if you add too little or too much water
  5. Wash top of can with warm water
  6. Pour boiled water into empty glass measuring cup
  7. Prepare formula – powdered, liquid or ready-to-feed
  8. Pour amount of infant formula for one feeding into each bottle (use glass if possible)
  9. Pick up nipples, rims and caps with sterile tongs and put on bottles and then tighten with your hands
  10. Shake bottle well
  11. Cool bottle under cold running water
  12. Put bottles in refrigerator and use within 24 hours
Powdered infant formula

Fill scoop from can with powder and level with knife. Add the required number of scoops of powder to the boiled water and mix until no lumps of powder are left. Cover can with plastic lid and store in cool, dry place. Use within 1 month.
How to prepare powdered infant formula [PDF 62 KB]

Liquid formula

Add an equal amount of liquid concentrate formula to the boiled water. Be sure to measure carefully. Stir well with sterile fork. Tightly cover open can and put in refrigerator. Use within 48 hours.
How to prepare liquid concentrate infant formula [PDF 65 KB]

Ready-to-feed infant formula

Shake can. Open with sterile can opener. Pour amount of infant formula for one feeding into each bottle (use glass if possible). DO NOT ADD WATER. Tightly cover open can and put in refrigerator. Use within 48 hours.
How to prepare ready-to-feed infant formula [PDF 46 KB]

Storing formula

  • Throw away any leftover formula at the end of each feeding
  • Do not freeze any type of formula. Freezing changes the fat content in infant formula.
  • If travelling for more than 30 minutes store bottles with an ice pack in a cooler or thermal lunch bag. Store formula in a refrigerator when you reach your destination.
  • Formula should be used within 24 hours from the time it was made, as long as it is kept in the refrigerator

How to warm your baby's bottle

Place the bottle of formula in warm water for 15 minutes. Shake the bottle to heat evenly. Check the temperature by putting a few drops on your wrist. Never microwave your baby's bottle. This creates “hotspots” that may burn your baby's mouth

How to feed your baby with a bottle

  1. Watch your baby for early feeding cues
  2. Wait for baby to open her mouth
  3. Tip bottle slightly so there is no air in the nipple
  4. Always hold your baby close in an upright position, hold baby skin-to-skin as often as possible 
  5. Watch your baby swallow and allow baby to rest (babies often need a break and you should allow them)
  6. Burp your baby as needed
  7. Stop feeding when your baby shows signs of being full
  8. Keep your baby upright for at least 30 minutes after feeding
  9. Throw away what your baby does not want to drink within 2 hours

How to feed your baby with a bottle [PDF 68 KB]

Guide to amount of infant formula to prepare daily

The amount of formula to feed is different for every baby. Follow the signs that tell you when your baby is full or hungry.

Age

Approximate amount of formula in each bottle in ounces and millilitres

Approximate number of feedings per day

Approximate amount of formula per day in ounces and millilitres

Birth

½ to 2 oz or 15 to 59 ml

6 to 10

14 to 22 oz or 410 to 650 ml

2 weeks

2 to 4 oz or 59 to 118 ml

6 to 10

16 to 26 oz or 470 to 770 ml

1 month

2 to 4 oz or 59 to 118 ml

6 to 8

17 to 29 oz or 500 to 860 ml

2 months

2 to 4 oz or 59 to 118 ml

5 to 7

22 to 35 oz or 650 to 1030 ml

3 months

5 to 6 oz or 148 to 177 ml

5 to 7

24 to 39 oz or 710 to 1150 ml

4 months

5 to 6 oz or 148 to 177 ml

5 to 7

20 to 37 oz or 590 to 1090 ml

5 months

5 to 6 oz or 148 to 177 ml

5 to 7

22 to 39 oz or 650 to 1150 ml

6 months

6 to 8 oz or 177 to 237 ml

4 to 5

17 to 35 oz or 500 to 1030 ml

7 months

6 to 8 oz or 177 to 237 ml

4 to 5

16 to 35 oz or 470 to 1030 ml

8 months

6 to 8 oz or 177 to 237 ml

4 to 5

17 to 37 oz or 500 to 1090 ml

9 months

6 to 8 oz or 177 to 237 ml

3 to 4

10 to 30 oz or 300 to 890 ml

10 months

6 to 8 oz or 177 to 237 ml

3 to 4

10 to 31 oz or 300 to 920 ml

11 months

6 to 8 oz or 177 to 237 ml

3 to 4

11 to 33 oz or 330 to 980 ml

12 months

6 to 8 oz or 177 to 237 ml

0 to 3

0 to 21 oz or 0 to 620 ml

Note: This table is a guide for the approximate amount of infant formula to prepare. The infant's appetite should be the guide for how much infant formula to offer. Adapted from Manual of Clinical Dietetics 2000, Institute of Medicine 2005, and World Health Organization 2004/2006.
For information on infant formula recalls please visit the Canadian Food Inspection Agency website.

For more information

For more information, contact the Ottawa Public Health Information Line at 613-580-6744 or to speak to a Registered Dietician call Eatright Ontario toll free at 1-877-510-5102.