With summer and long weekends upon us, there is no better time to be outdoors with family and friends and enjoy some delicious food. Whether it is a hot dog with sautéed onions or a savoury chicken curry here are some tips to not to let Salmonella and E. coli ruin your day.

Here are five things to look for when buying food at a festival or other public event

  1. Is the vendor displaying a valid temporary food permit? 
    Vendors are obligated to post their temporary food permit where you can see it. If you can't, don't be afraid to ask about it. Your stomach may thank you later. 
  2. Is the person serving food coughing or sneezing without properly protecting the food and washing their hands? 
    Vendors should use washing stations equipped with soap in a dispenser and paper towels. Proper hand hygiene is the number one way to avoid spreading germs. Everyone should always sneeze and cough into their elbow to avoid the spread of germs. 
  3. Is the person touching the food wearing gloves? 
    Vendors that need to touch the food, like sandwich makers, should always wear gloves when handling the food. One thing to look out for is whether they use the same gloves when handling money or other items. Gloves should be changed frequently. Here's an additional tip: Check if the vendor's apron is clean and not soiled with water or food. 
  4. Are the hot foods being kept hot and cold foods being kept cold? 
    Foods like luncheon meats, pasta salads or other perishable items should be kept refrigerated 
    Ensure grilled food is cooked properly and that different utensils are being used to handle cooked and raw meats. 
  5. Are foods being kept covered and stored above the ground? 
    If foods are not being kept covered they can be exposed to insects, flies and environmental contamination such as dust. If foods are not being kept above ground then insects could easily crawl into the containers. 

If you suspect a vendor is not complying with these requirements or you are suspicious of the food they are serving, contact your local Public Health unit.

Unfortunately, even the most vigilant festival attendee can get sick from something they ate. If you feel nauseous, begin to vomit or develop a fever or diarrhea, you may be suffering from food poisoning. In most cases it is relatively mild, and your body will naturally (though unpleasantly) rid itself of the toxins. If however, the symptoms continue for more than a day or two, or they worsen, you should seek immediate medical attention.

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