Food Hygiene at Home: How to Avoid Foodborne Illness | Caregivers for Elders Vancouver

One of every six Canadians experiences a foodborne illness each year. A foodborne illness is caused by pathogens, such as viruses and bacteria as well as toxins and chemicals inside foods.

As a caregiver for seniors in the greater Vancouver area, it is important for you to understand that foodborne illnesses are more common in elderly adults. Symptoms are also more severe in senior citizens as a result of eating contaminated food. While most people assume that it is caused by improperly cooked foods in restaurants or foods contaminated when produced by other people, the majority of the cases actually occur within the home. Using basic food safety can dramatically reduce the risks and the potentially severe symptoms of a foodborne illness.

5 Ways to Prevent Foodborne Illnesses and Infections | Caregivers for Seniors Vancouver

In this blog, our experienced caregivers in Vancouver share 5 ways you can be preventing foodborne illness and infection at home:

1. Follow Proper Hand Washing Procedures

If you come into contact with food or food-touching surfaces, you should wash your hands thoroughly prior to this contact and after any contact with food that can lead to cross-contamination, such as raw meat, poultry, pork, or fish.

2. Keep Cooked Food at Safe Temperatures

Avoid leaving cooked foods at room temperature for more than 2 hours. Foods that have been left out in the Temperature Danger Zone (between 5 – 60 degrees Celsius) for 2-4 hours cannot be refrigerated and must therefore be consumed immediately. Any food which remains in the Temperature Danger Zone over four hours must be discarded.

3. Segregate Your Fridge

Raw meat, poultry, and seafood should be placed at the bottom shelf of the refrigerator, ideally in a container to prevent them from dripping onto other stuff in the fridge. Fresh, ready-to-eat foods (e.g., fruits and vegetables) ideally should be stored in their labelled drawers or on a shelf above raw meats.

Cooked food, on the other hand, should be stored in clean, dry, sanitary containers that are preferably airtight. This will help keep food for longer and reduce the risk of contamination. Food, regardless of whether it is cooked or raw, should also be stored off the floor to prevent attracting pests.

4. Avoid Rinsing Meats

While this may seem like a good idea, rinsing your meat or poultry before cooking is not hygienic practice. Red meats do not need to be rinsed. If you do rinse poultry, any contamination that was on that poultry will now be in your sink. Therefore, you will need to clean and sanitize the sink and any surface it may have touched.

5. Designate Reusable Bags for Grocery Shopping

You would be surprised to know how many germs and bacteria live in the grocery bags that are stored under your kitchen sink. If you are to use reusable plastic/cloth bags, we encourage you to separate raw meet, fish and poultry from ready-to-eat products. Cloth bags should be washed in the washing machine and dried either in the drier or air dried on a frequent basis.


Ace Personnel is a Full Service Household Staff Placement Agency providing home care services to families and individuals in the Greater Vancouver area; the Lower Mainland and throughout British Columbia. We represent experienced, qualified and reliable caregivers, nannies and skilled homemakers.

We are family owned and operated for over 38 years, with a core focus on establishing and maintaining long term relationships and providing you and your loved ones with continuity of care.

The key to our success is our employees. We promote a work environment that is open and friendly and we provide on-going and as needed specialized training and home care education.

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