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NEWS RELEASE · 23rd July 2010
M. of Healthy Living & Sport
The Province has launched a new self-guided online course on how to safely handle and prepare food so you can reduce the risk of food-borne illnesses caused by contamination, announced Ida Chong, Minister of Healthy Living and Sport.

Caring About Food Safety, an interactive tutorial available online at no cost for all British Columbians, includes six sections that show step- by-step how to safely buy, store, prepare and cook food, as well as clean up afterwards.

"We know that we can reduce the risk of salmonella, listeria, campylobacter and many other food-borne illnesses by better educating people on how to properly store, handle and prepare food," said Chong. "Caring About Food Safety supports recommendations from the provincial health officer following the listeria outbreak in 2008, as well as our government's commitment to healthy living."

The web-based, interactive course will benefit people who prepare food in work, community and home environments, where it is not always necessary for them to hold a food training certificate. It's available in multiple languages at www.foodsafety.gov.bc.ca, as well as on DVD.

Under the Health Act's food premises regulation, every operator of a food service establishment must hold a certificate for completion of a food-handler training program such as FoodSafe, and must ensure that at least one certified employee is always present if the operator is absent. However, this does not apply where food is prepared and served in family child care, residential-care facilities for six or fewer persons, community groups and small business environments.

"Many people who prepare food are not always taking proper precautions or not aware of the foods most susceptible to contamination," said Dr. Perry Kendall, provincial health officer. "By providing food safety information that's readily available for anyone through an informative and interactive website, we can educate people who don't hold a food safety certificate to better protect them, their family and friends from food-borne illnesses."

The provincial health officer's 2009 report, Listeria Outbreak: Review and Recommendations For Food Safety in Facilities, recommended that an appropriate short, self-learning program be developed in several languages and made readily available to all staff that prepare or handle food and are not otherwise required to have specific training.

The project cost $150,000 and was supported through a partnership with Open School BC for the production of then course.

A short video about the course led by Kendall is available at http://www.hls.gov.bc.ca/protect/ehp_foodsafetydemo.html.