Providing food to the public carries an immense responsibility. Proper food handling steps must be followed to reduce the risk of foodborne illness (food poisoning) whether you are a national food producer/manufacturer, a restaurant owner, or operating a home-based business. The role of the Thunder Bay District Health Unit is to help food handlers understand and follow safe food handling procedures. Public health inspectors provide education and information, and conduct routine site inspections.
The TBDHU also provides safe food handling courses online and in person. It is strongly recommended that all persons planning to prepare and sell/give away food to the public take a safe food handling course.
A home caterer is any person who prepares or handles food in his or her home with the intention of providing it to the public, including at farmers’ markets. Home caterers must review and follow the TBDHU’s Operating Guidelines for Home Caterers (PDF).
Here are some of the steps all home caterers must take:
- Permit a TBDHU health inspector to inspect your home at a reasonable time up to three times per year.
- Contact your municipality about any business licenses you may require.
- Create a food safety plan for each menu item.
- Refer to special guidelines for selling at farmers’ markets and/or special events, if applicable.
A sample Food Safety Plan (PDF) can be viewed here. You may follow this Food Safety Plan template (Word Document) when creating your food safety plan. Public health inspectors are available to help you with this process, upon request.
Home Canning Safety
Special precautions must be taken when canning, bottling or jarring foods, whether you plan to sell them to the public or not. The TBDHU has developed these Home Canning Safety Guidelines (PDF).
All vendors operating at a farmers’ market must follow the TBDHU’s Operating Guidelines for Farmers’ Markets (PDF).
The guidelines refer to the following forms:
There is also more information for vendors, managers and staff at farmers’ markets on the Food Safety at Farmers' Markets page from Farmers’ Markets Ontario.
For Further Information
Call the Public Health Inspector: (807) 625-5900
or toll-free 1-888-294-6630