Food Safety Resources
The resources below provide specific food safety processes that operators can follow in order to meet the requirements of the Food Premises Regulation.
What has changed?
The Food Premises regulations were recently modernized. The previous regulation prescribed cooking temperatures for named products, while the new regulation states that, “all food be processed in a manner that makes the food safe to eat”.
What does this mean?
This outcome-based approach provides operators with the flexibility to choose a processing method which will satisfy the regulation as well as their cooking preferences, as long as the end result is a “safe product”.
How is “safe product” determined?
Follow proven time / temperature tables from a reputable source, such as:
- Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food & Rural Affairs (Meat Plant Guidelines) h
- Canadian Food Inspection Agency (Manual of Procedures)
Create and follow a food safety management plan that incorporates HACCP-based principles and best practices for the specific process, such as:
- Ontario Food Premise Reference Document, 2019
- Health Canada, Food Safety for First Nations People of Canada: A Manual for Healthy Practices, 2012, for the preparation of First Nations and Indigenous foods:
Are there any other requirements?
The operator is responsible for documenting the recipe and training all food handlers on the new documented procedure. TPH also recommends the use of logs to record time and temperature.
Can you provide an example?
Under the previous regulation, an operator wanting to cook 100% beef hamburgers would have to cook them to a minimum temperature of 71°C. Under the new regulation, and using OMAFRA Time / Temperature tables, hamburgers may be cooked from a minimum 54.4°C for 112 minutes to 71.1°C for 1 second.
What are these products?
Gyros, donairs and shawarmas are meat products (beef, chicken and/or lamb) which are chopped, flaked, ground or minced and restructured into a “cone”. They are generally cooked on a vertical style broiler, and cones may be on the broiler for a substantial amount of time.
What are the risks of this type of product?
The potential for food-borne illness is higher than other prepared meat products because of the preparation method used. Generally, meat is sliced or shaved from the exterior of the cone and served to consumers while the interior of the cone is still raw. There is potential for raw product to be served to consumers. .
How do I ensure my product is safe?
Use meat from inspected and approved source
- Freeze meat cones immediately after preparation and remain frozen until placed on the broiler.
- Use a few small cones throughout the day rather than one large one.
- Use a clean, sanitized knife or slicer to cut the exterior of the meat cone when it is cooked.
- Cook cones continuously, even while slicing.
- Do not turn off the vertical broiler to slow down the cooking of the cone.
- Complete a secondary cooking step before serving sliced product. This can involve ovens, grills, broilers, microwaves and any other method which will heat the food for a safe temperature / time combination.
- Use a thermometer to confirm / measure the effectiveness of the secondary cooking step. This may mean an infrared thermometer or a probe thermometer with a thin sensor.
- Serve meat immediately after secondary cooking or store in a hot holding unit at least 60°C (140°F); or cool quickly to 4°C (40°F) or less for storage.
What do I do with leftover product?
At the end of a day, partially cooked cones CANNOT be kept intact for future use. If the operator is consistently left with large amounts of product remaining at the end of the day they should reduce the size of the cone being used.
Food safety concerns of meat slicers
In 2008, an outbreak of foodborne illness caused by Listeria bacteria claimed the lives of 20 people and resulted in one of the largest recalls of food products in Canadian history. The subsequent investigation traced the bacteria to meat slicing equipment.
Disease-causing bacteria can grow on equipment and utensils when they are not properly cleaned and sanitized. Listeria bacteria are particularly difficult to control because they multiply in cold temperatures, where other bacteria do not.
Clean and sanitize meat slicers to prevent the spread of bacteria
Clean and sanitize meat slicers used at room temperature at least every four hours to help prevent the growth of disease-causing bacteria like Listeria.
Cleaning is the removal of visible food debris, grease and other materials. This may require the use of physical energy (scrubbing), heat or chemicals.
To sanitize means to treat by a process in which bacteria are destroyed to a safe level. This is done with chemicals meant for use around food, or with heat (hot water at 77ºC or 171ºF).
How to clean and sanitize meat slicers
Meat slicers are dangerous machines to use and to clean. Always follow your workplace safety procedures when using or cleaning equipment and when working with chemical sanitizers. The following suggested steps are not meant to replace the manufacturer’s or your workplace’s approved policies and procedures.
- 1. Unplug the machine (use a lockout box where necessary)
- Set blade control at zero
- Wear safety gloves when cleaning blade
- Remove excess food waste by wiping or pre-rinsing
- Disassemble the machine
- Use hot detergent solution to clean machine surfaces
- Rinse to remove loose food waste, grease and detergent
- Sanitize machine surfaces with a 45ºC (113ºF) solution of (follow the sanitizer directions for mixing):
- chlorine (100 to 200 mg/L; or 4 to 8 mL of 5.25% bleach per litre of water)
- quaternary ammonium (up to 200 mg/L)
- iodine (up to 25 mg/L)
- Allow to air dry, if possible, otherwise use clean paper towels
- Reassemble machine and cover when not in use
Portuguese Style Custard Tarts (Nata or Pastel de Nata) are individual-sized pastries with a filling made with eggs, cream, and sugar in a flaky crust.
How are they made?
When Portuguese Style Custard Tarts are prepared, raw custard filling is poured into the pastry and then cooked in a very hot oven (550°F-700°F) for 10-12 minutes. This method kills vegetative pathogens and creates a crust on the surface of the tart. This dry surface crust and the pastry crust protect the moist filling from contamination.
These products may be left unrefrigerated for up to 24 hours after production if prepared as described.
Why not all custard products?
Custards are generally considered a hazardous food and must be refrigerated. This document provides an exemption for this specific product only. Custards that are sliced, custards larger than single serving, and custards cooked below the noted temperatures MUST be refrigerated after preparation.
Portuguese Style Custard tarts may be left unrefrigerated for 24 hours after production only if the following conditions are met:
- The process and recipe used is substantially similar to that described above.
- Sanitary conditions in the premises are maintained to adequately protect food from contamination.
- No grade “C” or ungraded eggs should be on the premises, and the premises must not have a history of using ungraded eggs.
- The tarts must be stored in a manner that is highly unlikely to puncture the crust or pastry.
- After 24 hours, the products must be frozen, refrigerated or discarded.
Does Toronto Public Health allow the public the use their own containers at food premises?
Food premises set their own policy regarding customer/client supplied containers. They may decide to encourage or ban the practice, and this can be entirely their decision. Any policy that is decided on must not conflict with the Food Premises Regulations. Particular care must be used in addressing overfilling and spill situations.
What if I’d like to use my own container and the premises will not accommodate me?
Toronto Public Health has no role on any retailer’s decision in this area. Some retailers ban the practice due to perceived liability from improperly sanitized containers being reused.
What about Child Care Centres: Can they discourage customer supplied containers?
Child Care Centres must have written, site-specific policies. This policy may include any condition which does not conflict with the Food Premises Regulations. Particular care must be used in addressing overfilling and spill situations. Child Care Centres must have utensils available if employing a “bring your own container” policy.
Are there any regulations surrounding this practice?
As per the Food Premises Regulation, premises and people using their own containers must be aware of sections addressing spills and cross-contamination:
8. (1) All equipment, utensils and multi-service articles that are used for the preparation, processing, packaging, serving, transportation, manufacture, handling, sale, offer for sale or display of food in a food premise shall be:
(a) of sound and tight construction;
(b) kept in good repair;
(c) of such form and material that it can be readily cleaned and sanitized; and
(d) suitable for their intended purpose.
8. (2) Equipment and utensils that come into direct contact with food shall be:
(a) corrosion-resistant and non-toxic; and
(b) free from cracks, crevices and open seams.
26. (1) All food shall be protected from contamination and adulteration.
Sous vide is a food preparation process using vacuum sealed plastic bags to cook food within a water bath kept at a very consistent and precise temperature. The process may also include vacuum packing foods on site by utilizing appropriate equipment and food grade packaging. Sous vide is becoming increasingly popular, especially among high-end restaurants in large urban cities like Toronto. It can be used cosmetically to retain vibrant colors of food products and change the texture of the food to something that would not be attainable through conventional means.
What is the concern?
Sous vide cooking can utilize low-temperature, long-time cooking. Toronto Public Health recognizes this and will allow sous vide food processing under the following conditions:
- All kitchen staff involved with sous vide processes should be Certified Food Handlers and should have specific training in sous vide. These staff should be aware of the “come up” time as well as cooking time. Come up time is the time it will take for food to reach a specific internal temperature after being immersed in the water bath. It is recommended that staff cooking sous vide is limited to minimize any risk to food safety.
- A written copy of all recipes utilizing sous vide techniques in the establishment should be available at the request of the Public Health Inspector. Recipes will demonstrate evidence-based processes to ensure all hazardous foods are safe as per O. Reg 493/17 section 26(2).
- Toronto Public Health recommends thinner portions of food are used so that heat transfer is rapid. Some foods may not be suitable for sous vide cooking, such as whole birds and minced meats.
- Vacuum pack foods in a single layer and avoid overlapping. Once opened, a package should not be re-sealed. Packages should be fully immersed in hot water bath and should not be able to float (this indicates too much air in package).
- No potentially hazardous food may be processed in water bath temperatures lower than 55°C. For chicken products, the lower limit is 60°C.
- Food premises using processes where temperatures are lower than those indicated in the Ontario Food Premises Regulation should have an additional kill step (i.e. searing) before service.
- All sous vide food that is not ready-to-eat or to be processed further, should be cooled using an ice water bath to below 3°C within two hours and should be reheated to above 60°C before serving. Reheated sous vide foods should be served immediately.
- All refrigerated sous vide products must be stored below 3°C until reheating.
- All sous vide pouched foods stored under refrigeration must be clearly labelled with date, time, discard date and identity.
- Raw sous vide foods should not be stored in refrigeration for more than two days. All sous vide foods that are to be served immediately should be consumed within four hours of cooking.
- Fish prepared sous vide style should be frozen first for parasite control
- Sous vide prepared foods should be stored up to a maximum of seven days.
- The food premises should only use commercial equipment that is designed for sous vide purposes.
- All equipment used for sous vide should be cleaned and sanitized after every use. Follow cleaning instructions for all equipment, including immersion circulator. Hot water sanitation (77°C) recommended for circulator and water basin used.
- Pouches, bags, sacs, etc. used for sous vide must be food grade and designed for sous vide use. Glass jars are acceptable for sous vide use for sauces or other foods that do not require a vacuum seal.
- The vacuum sealing machine must be able to package foods to achieve an appropriate anaerobic environment.
- An immersion circulator or larger water bath system designed for sous vide should be used. It should never be overloaded which may increase the “come up” time. Once the cooking process has begun, additional sous vide items should not be placed into the hot water bath as this will lower the set temperature and items will not be properly cooked.
- An accurate probe thermometer is required in order to check internal temperatures as deemed necessary. The probe thermometer should be cleaned and sanitized between uses to prevent cross- contamination.
- Sealing tape designed for sous vide purposes should be utilized to ensure the puncture left by the probe thermometer properly re-seals. This will ensure that water does not seep into the pouch and/or creates an aerobic environment.
Food premises may utilize sous vide techniques for both hazardous and non-hazardous foods.
The food pathogens of greatest concern are Clostridium botulinum and Listeria monocytogenes. A food premises may process food using sous vide methods, provided proper controls are in place and staff are adequately trained. The food items must be carefully monitored to control for temperature, water activity and pH. As always, care must be taken to prevent cross-contamination, ensure proper food handling techniques and personal hygiene
Sushi rice is a ready to eat preparation of rice commonly used to make sushi and maki rolls. It is usually made by mixing cooked rice with sugar, salt, and rice vinegar. Sushi rice is generally consumed as a component of another food product. This document refers to the rice only. Sushi or maki rolls made with raw fish are hazardous foods and must be held according to the Food Premises Regulations.
What is the concern?
Sushi rice is a potentially hazardous food unless the pH is below 4.3 due to the risk of Bacillus cereus and Staphylococcus aureus. However, makers of sushi rice may want to maintain it at or near room temperature as sushi is traditionally served warm (at approximately 30°C) for ideal taste.
At premises where the rice pH is not checked routinely, Toronto Public Health will enforce the “two hour rule”. Sushi rice m After two hours, the product must be reheated to the original cooking temperature, refrigerated or frozen.
The two hour limit will only be permitted if the following criteria are met:
- Foods are clearly marked with the time at which they were removed from temperature control and with the time at which they must be discarded.
- Cooking and cooling processes, where applicable, must meet legislated requirements.
- Foods are at or below 4 ºC or at or above 60 ºC at the starting time.
- Sanitary conditions in the premises are maintained to adequately protect food from contamination.
- A written food safety plan that addresses the use of time as control is in place and available to the Public Health Inspector for review upon request.
Premises must test at least weekly for pH of sushi rice, and who have results consistently below pH 4.3 would be allowed to hold sushi rice without temperature control for eight hours.
Premises who wish to go beyond this requirement can engage the services of a private lab to run a challenge study on the product. A properly conducted challenge study will have its conclusions reviewed by Toronto Public Health. Any changes in recipe or preparation after acceptance necessitate submission of a new study.