Tag Archive: safety

  1. Practicing Food Safety

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    You want the best when it comes to the food you eat.  There’s no way you’d want something old, mouldy or funky smelling in your food. 

    It’s the same here at the food bank. 

    Food safety is extremely important.  Safety measures are taken into consideration before the food even makes it into the warehouse.  Our hardworking operations team ensures not to bring in food that may be hazardous to members of our community.  Items like this can include damaged items, foods with missing labels and nutritional products that have expired.

    Not only do we want everyone to meet their food needs in the community, we want them to enjoy their food safely.

    Recently Toronto Public Health released a guide on Food Safety in Food Banks and Community Organizations.  This guide makes it easy for all organizations in the food sector to maintain guidelines on food safety and handling. 


    Food Safety Measures

    As you may know, we prefer to take non-perishable food items from donations (canned goods, boxed items, etc.) to ensure we can get these items out to the public without safety issues.  But…

    Did you know…

    Even though we are grateful for amazing donations from the community, there are just some items that we CANNOT accept.  These items include:

    • Food products that are not identifiable or that have ingredients that are not identifiable (missing label or label written in a language other than English/French)
    • Partially consumed foods (open packaging)
    • Unpasteurized foods
    • Home preserves and canned items (jams, jellies, pickles etc.)
    • Meats, dairy and other high risk items that are not directly from a processor or store e.g. turkeys that have been in your freezer; you may assure us that that turkey has never been defrosted but because we don’t know that 100% we cannot accept it, sorry!

    These guidelines make sure that people using the food banks don’t get sick from foods they consume.


    Did you know…

    There is a difference between Best Before and Expiry Dates.  When it comes to packaged foods the dates can get a little confusing.  Here are some tips to tell the difference between dates.

    • A best before date is simply the promise of the manufacturer that the food in the package will be of highest quality. It is not an indication of food safety.
    • Many times a best before date is not necessary and mostly used to indicate when the quality of food will begin to decrease (a change in taste and texture).
    • The only items REQUIRED to have expiry dates are baby formulas, meal replacements, formulated liquid diets and nutritional supplements. These items must be thrown out past the expiry date as the should NOT be consumed. This is because the nutritional content cannot be guaranteed beyond the expiry date and the nutritional content is very important for babies, the sick and the elderly.
    • We will accept foods up to three months past their best before date because we know that they are safe. However, in order to protect our community members’ dignity we prefer to receive donations of food that have at least 3 months remaining before their best before date.


    Food Recalls

    You may have seen food recalls on the news, specifically the latest one about Baby Food.  These recalls affect the food bank and food bank clients. 

    How might a food be recalled?

    • Illness outbreak
    • Food tests identify a health risk
    • An inspection by CFIA detects a safety concern
    • A recall of the item in another country
    • The company initiates a recall
    • Other issues can arise such as food tampering

    Recalls are taken very seriously at the food bank.  These items are removed from our shelves and notices are sent out.  If these items have already made it into people’s homes, we alert them and contact Toronto Public Health.


    Ensuring public safety when it comes to food handling and distribution is one of our top priorities.  If you join us for a food sorting session, you will be trained on how to identify the safety of the food you’re sorting.  Remember: When in Doubt, Throw it Out!


    To learn more first hand and join us for a food sorting session, click here!


    Check out these handy guides on how to inspect YOUR food.

    boxes glass or plastic bags cans jars dates

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  2. A Chance to Rebuild

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    Guest Blog by Daffodil Davis

    When you lose everything, where do you turn?

    Each and every day in the food bank I meet people from all walks of life.  Each with their own story to tell.  But even though the story is different, we all have a similar goal in life… to take care of our families.

    I first met Layla when I was working at Oriole Food Space in North York.  She moved to Canada with her family to seek refuge from a home that was no longer safe.

    “Everything was gone. Our home, our jobs, our kids couldn’t go to school anymore. We were scared,” she shared with me.

    She came to Canada and was able to reconnect with members of her extended family already living in our community. Layla and her family were overjoyed with the chance to start anew after a life of uncertainty and fear. “My kids were enrolled in school and my husband was working in a restaurant. It finally seemed as though things were turning around for us.”

    But then the unexpected happened. Her husband suffered a severe heart attack and could no longer work at his restaurant job to support the family.

    Once again, Layla felt like she had lost everything. She had to make sure that her kids had a roof over their head and food in their bellies.  Unsure of how to support her family, she turned to one of her new neighbours for advice.  They told her about her local food bank.  She didn’t even know that such places existed in our community to help her and others in need.

    Because of YOUR support, we are able to help people like Layla to make sure that they have access to nutritious food.  Thank you for making a difference!

    Daffodil and OFS Volunteers

    Daffodil and OFS Volunteers

    We are also able to help with referrals for other community programs to assist newcomers with their language skills, resume building and child care. 

    Layla had lost many things, but it doesn’t have to mean that it is lost forever. “Because of the food bank, I was able to feed my kids, feel safe and build a new life. I am so grateful.” 

    Together we can help people in need rebuild what was lost.

    As we enter into the coldest months of winter, the food bank shelves will begin to empty.  We need your help to ensure that when families like Layla’s come to the food bank, there will be enough food to share.

    Please give generously today to keep food on our shelves so our neighbours can feed their families. Give today so that this winter none one goes hungry.

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