Food for Thought Blog
Food Safety at The Food Bank
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, an estimated 1 in 8 Canadians will become sick with a food-borne illness this year.
Everyone is at risk of contracting a food-borne illness. Children, elderly, pregnant, chronically ill, and immune-compromised individuals are at the highest risk. These groups make up a large percentage of the individuals supported by The Food Bank of Waterloo Region and Community Food Assistance Network. As a result, ensuring proper safe food-handling skills is a top priority of The Food Bank.
Here is how we maintain food safety every day.
Regular Public Health Inspections
The Food Bank undergoes regular public health inspections to ensure we meet all food safety standards. Found here, the Region of Waterloo publishes every inspection report and makes them accessible to the public.
We ensure food remains at the proper temperature to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.
We maintain the cold chain for food distribution to the 100+ community programs and agency partners throughout Waterloo Region. At The Food Bank, we have eight refrigerated trucks, which allow us to ensure correct food temperature during all stages of the transportation process.
Fridge and Freezer Temperature Monitoring
The Food Bank uses remote monitoring technology to ensure 24/7 real-time and accurate food safety information of all refrigerated equipment.
That includes our on-site walk-in coolers, refrigerators, and refrigerated trucks. The remote technology monitors the temperature of each unit and will notify us if a temperature falls out of range, allowing us to take immediate corrective action.
Safe Food Handler Certificates
The Ontario Health Protection and Promotion Act requires all food businesses to have at least one employee on-site with Safe Food Handlers Certification. The Food Bank is no exception. Multiple staff hold this certification, ensuring there is always someone with the required training to provide direction and support.
Our registered dietitian is the in-house subject matter expert on nutrition information and safe food handling. They provide guidance, support and direction to staff, volunteers, and our partner agencies in these areas.
Discarding Unsafe Donations
We inspect all donations for meeting our distribution guidelines and
- Discard unsafe cans or packaging (dented, rusted, or spoiled) when sorting non-perishable donations.
- Remove items that are spoiled or have exceeded their best before date exceed (as outlined by Food Banks Canada guidelines and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency) when inspected and gleaned.
Fresh Approaches Food Centre
Our Fresh Approaches Food Centre provides a designated Public Health-approved space for perishable and non-perishable food item re-packaging and processing. This room follows strict food safety and sanitation guidelines to ensure that food processed and distributed to the community is safe.
Designated Staff and Volunteer Roles
Every day we have staff and volunteers designated to sort, glean, and organize perishable donations. That ensures no cross-contamination between perishable products as well as safe and organized food storage.
Food Distribution Guidelines
At The Food Bank, we follow food distribution guidelines set out by Food Banks Canada. These guidelines were developed in partnership with the Canadian Food Inspection agency and guide food shelf life and distributing past the best before date.
Food Recall Policy
We have a strict food recall policy and receive regular updates on food recalls by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to prevent potentially harmful food from being consumed by individuals accessing food assistance.