Food safety during a boil-water advisory

Published July 20, 2016

What are the reasons for a “boil water” advisory?

A boil water advisory may be issued as a result of any of the following:

  1. A bacteriological (microbial) examination, including the finding of bacteria or parasites within the water source;
  2. Information other than bacteriological examination indicating that the water is not safe to drink (e.g., the lack or absence of disinfection residual in the drinking water);
  3. Following the occurrence of an outbreak of illness within the community that has been linked to consumption of the water. The extent of restriction on water use depends on the situation and the reason for issuing a water boil advisory. Always follow the local health authorities’ecommendations on water use.

What is a simple procedure for boiling water?

  1. Put water in clean and sanitized, heat resistant pot/container;
  2. Put heat resistant pot containing water on stove burner;
  3. Heat water until it is brought to a rapid rolling boil;
  4. Continue rolling boil for at least five minutes;
  5. After five minutes, if necessary, cool water by placing it in another sanitized container and store in the refrigerator.

How do I use water when a boil water advisory has been issued?

In a foodservice operation, boiled water should be used for:

  1. All water used as an ingredient in any food products (i.e. salads, soups, beverages and desserts, etc.);
  2. All water used to wash or rinse food products;
  3. All water used for drinking;
  4. All water added to drinks such as tea/coffee/soda/carbonated beverage machines (this applies to pop dispenser nozzle in bar facilities);
  5. All water used to make consumable ice or ice products (it may be preferable to purchase commercially bagged ice from an approved source/supplier);
  6. All water used for handwashing. A bottled water product should be used if more convenient.
  7. If heat (hot water) is used as the sanitizing method for dishes, equipment and utensils, operators must ensure the final rinse temperature of the mechanical dishwashing machine reaches 82°C (180°F). Otherwise, you can fill the third compartment of a three-compartment sink (manual dishwashing option) with boiled water and add a sufficient amount of an approved chemical as the sanitization process (contact local health authorities).

(Reference-Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care)


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