Information Update – Health Canada reminds Canadians of food safety tips for shopping at farmers’ markets

Last updated:

July 2, 2019
For immediate release

OTTAWA – Shopping at a farmers’ market or a farm stand is a great way to get fresh, local foods. Here are some guidelines to help keep you and your family safe while supporting your local farmers and producers:

Produce

Fresh produce can become contaminated in the field through contact with soil, contaminated water, wild or domestic animals, or improperly composted manure. 

  • Separate fresh fruits and vegetables from meat, poultry and seafood products in baskets, bins and bags.
  • Fresh produce that requires refrigeration should always be stored in the fridge as soon as you get home.
  • Before eating fruits and vegetables, wash them thoroughly under fresh, cool, running water, even if you plan to peel them.

Milk and cheeses

Consuming raw or unpasteurized milk and cheese products comes with an increased risk of foodborne illness, as the products have not been processed to eliminate harmful bacteria. Raw milk can be contaminated with dangerous bacteria such as Salmonella, E. colior Listeria, which can pose serious health risks.

  • Ask the vendor, or read the label, to find out if the milk or cheese has been pasteurized.
  • Avoid eating cheese made from raw or unpasteurized milk, especially soft and semi-soft varieties (such as Brie, Camembert, and blue-veined cheeses) if you are pregnant, if you are an older adult or if you have a weakened immune system because you are at a higher risk for illness.

Eggs

  • Eggs sold at farmers’ markets and farm stalls are not subject to the same food safety standards as graded eggs sold in grocery stores. You can reduce your risk of contracting Salmonella from eggs by following a few simple tips.
    • Purchase eggs at the end of your shopping trip.
    • Inspect eggs to make sure they aren’t cracked. Dangerous bacteria can enter a cracked egg.
    • Eggs stored at room temperature spoil more quickly than refrigerated ones. Eggs should be refrigerated as soon as possible and stored in the coolest section of the refrigerator.

Meat and poultry

Raw meat and poultry may contain harmful bacteria, so it is important to keep it separate from other items to avoid cross-contamination.

  • Choose properly chilled meat at the market.
  • Place packages of raw meat in separate shopping bags to keep meat juices from leaking onto other foods.
  • Store raw meat in the refrigerator immediately after you return home.
  • Freeze raw poultry or ground beef that won’t be used within one to two days.
  • Freeze other raw meats if they won’t be used within four to five days.

Bags and Bins

Your reusable baskets, bins and bags can also spread foodborne illnesses, so it’s important to wash and care for them properly.

  • Machine-wash your cloth bags frequently, especially after using them to carry fresh produce, meat, poultry or seafood.
  • Plastic baskets, plastic bins and reusable grocery bags that aren’t machine-washable should be washed using hot soapy water or sanitized with a mild bleach solution on a regular basis.
  • Dry your grocery baskets, bags and bins after washing.
  • If juices from food have leaked into the basket, bin or bag, make sure to wash it thoroughly before using it again.
  • Thoroughly wash your baskets, bins and bags before using them for groceries if they’ve been used to carry non-food items.

For more information on food safety and safe food handling, visit:

Media Inquiries:

Health Canada
(613) 957-2983

Public Inquiries:

(613) 957-2991
1-866 225-0709

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