What Do You Really Know? 10 Common Food Safety Myths Exposed

Photo By Nikki Garrett Metzger

By Staff Reports

(Victor Valley) – Graduation celebrations, family get-togethers, and backyard barbeques: it’s the season of celebrations and that almost always means lots of FOOD!

When you are preparing the dishes for your upcoming celebration, or even for tonight’s dinner, here are some common myths about food safety to keep in mind.  Some might even surprise you.

Myth #1: Food poisoning isn’t that big of a deal. You just have to tough it out for a day or two and then it’s over.

Fact: Many people don’t know it, but some foodborne illnesses can actually lead to long-term health conditions, and 3,000 Americans a year die from foodborne illness.

Myth #2: It’s OK to thaw meat on the counter. Since it starts out frozen, bacteria isn’t really a problem.

Fact: Actually, bacteria grow surprisingly rapidly at room temperatures, so the counter is never a place you should thaw foods. Instead, thaw foods in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave.

Myth #3: When cleaning the kitchen, the more bleach you use, the better. More bleach kills more bacteria, so it’s safer for your family.

Fact: There is actually no advantage to using more bleach than needed. To clean kitchen surfaces effectively, use just one teaspoon of liquid, unscented bleach to one quart of water.

Myth #4: You don’t need to wash fruits or vegetables if you’re going to peel them.

Fact: Because it’s easy to transfer bacteria from the peel or rind you’re cutting to the inside of your fruits and veggies, it’s important to wash all produce, even if you plan to peel it.

Myth #5: To get rid of any bacteria on meat, poultry, or seafood, you should rinse off the juices with water first.

Fact: Actually, rinsing meat, poultry, or seafood with water can increase your chance of food poisoning by splashing juices (and any bacteria they might contain) onto your sink and counters. The best way to cook meat, poultry, or seafood safely is to make sure you cook it to the right temperature.

Myth #6: The only reason to let food sit after it’s been microwaved is to make sure you don’t burn yourself on food that’s too hot.

Fact: In fact, letting microwaved food sit for a few minutes (“standing time”) helps your food cook more completely by allowing colder areas of food time to absorb heat from hotter areas of food.

Myth #7: Leftovers are safe to eat until they smell bad.

Fact: The kinds of bacteria that cause food poisoning do not affect the look, smell, or taste of food. To be safe, use the Safe Storage Times chart to make sure you know the right time to throw food out.

Myth #8: Once food has been cooked, all the bacteria have been killed, so you don’t need to worry once it’s “done.”

Fact: Actually, the possibility of bacterial growth actually increases after cooking, because the drop in temperature allows bacteria to thrive. This is why keeping cooked food warmed to the right temperature is critical for food safety.

Myth #9: Marinades are acidic, which kills bacteria—so it’s OK to marinate foods on the counter.

Fact: Even in the presence of acidic marinade, bacteria can grow very rapidly at room temperatures. To marinate foods safely, it’s important to marinate them in the refrigerator.

Myth #10: If you really want produce to be safe, you should wash fruits and veggies with soap or detergent before you use them.

Fact: In fact, it’s best not to use soaps or detergents on produce, since these products can linger on foods and are not safe for consumption. Using clean running water is actually the best way to remove bacteria and wash produce safely.

For more information on food safety visit FoodSafety.gov

Information provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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