It's the season of eating and while for many 'It's the most wonderful time of year' things can quickly turn sour with food poisoning. Alberta Health Services has a couple of tips to keep your friends and family safe from food borne illnesses. 

At the grocery store: 

  • Put raw meat, poultry, eggs, fish and shellfish items at the bottom of the cart away from other food. 
  • Bag raw meat poultry, eggs, fish and shellfish items separately.  

Storing foods: 

  • Refrigerate meat, poultry, eggs, fish and shellfish as soon as you get home from the grocery store.  
  • Make sure your refrigerator is set at 4 °C (40 °F) or colder. 
  • If you will not be cooking items within three days, make sure you store food safely in your refrigerator or freezer. More information can be found at See Food Safety: Storing. 
  • Always store raw meat, poultry, fish or shellfish on the bottom shelf of the fridge or freezer. 
  • Prevent raw meat poultry, fish or shellfish juices from dripping on other items in your fridge or freezer by: 
    • storing it in a clean plastic container or plastic bag that will hold in any leaking juices, or  
    • placing the raw meat on a deep tray to catch any leaking juices. 


  • You can thaw your meat, poultry, fish or shellfish in the fridge or microwave. If you thaw food in the refrigerator, be sure juices do not drip onto other food. Place these foods on the lowest shelf, never above ready-to-eat foods. 
  • Do not thaw meat, poultry, fish or shellfish at room temperature. It is not safe and could result in the growth of dangerous bacteria. 
  • Cook your meat, poultry, fish or shellfish immediately after it has thawed. 


  • If you are feeling unwell and experiencing symptoms of illness such as vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea or fever, do not handle or prepare food for others or attend a gathering.  
  • Wash fruits and vegetables, but don’t wash raw meat. This helps avoid the spread of raw meat juice and cross contamination.   
  • Hand hygiene is important. Always wash your hands before preparing food, after handling raw meat and before moving on to another task/step. 
  • Use separate cutting boards and knives to prevent cross contamination. Prepare ready-to-eat foods (e.g. salad) first before handling raw meat.  
  • Wash counters with soapy water, then sanitize after handling raw meat. Use a bleach solution (one teaspoon regular unscented bleach in one litre of water) to sanitize surfaces in contact with raw meat, poultry, fish or shellfish. 


  • Meat, poultry, fish and shellfish must be cooked to a safe internal temperature. See safe internal temperatures for various meats at Food Safety: Cooking  
  • To ensure meat is properly cooked, always use a meat thermometer and follow the instructions on the packaging. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the cut, ensuring it is not touching any bones. 
  • Prepare and cook stuffing separately from the turkey. 


  • Hot foods should be kept at a temperature of at least 60 °C or 140 °F. 
  • Cold foods should be kept at a temperature of 4 °C or 40 °F or lower. 
  • Do not serve food that has been sitting at room temperature for more than two hours. 


  • Refrigerate all leftovers within two hours of serving.  
  • Leftovers should be reheated to at least 74 °C or 165 °F . 
  • Leftover meat, stuffing or gravy should be eaten within two or three days of cooking. Any food that will not be eaten within three days should be immediately frozen after cooking.