Food safety is an important part of keeping yourself and your family safe while cooking meals. There are a lot of myths out there about what is a safe and unsafe practice when preparing foods. Instead of guessing how to handle food, leave it to the experts. The CDC recently put out a list of 10 Dangerous Food Safety Myths and solutions to implement. Here are 5 myths, debunked, and how to properly handle food safely.
MYTH #1: You should wash meat, chicken, or turkey before preparing
FACT: Washing raw meat, chicken, turkey, or eggs can spread germs to your sink, countertops, and other surfaces in your kitchen. Those germs can get on other foods, like salads or fruit, and make you and your family sick. Instead, cook meat, chicken, turkey and eggs to the proper temperature in order to kill bacteria. If you need to prep the chicken, including removing the skin or breading, don’t rinse it and use a separate cutting board and knife for raw chicken. Never place cooked food or fresh produce on a plate or cutting board that has been in direct contact with raw chicken. Always wash the plate or cutting board first with hot soapy water.
MYTH #2: Tasting or smelling food is the best way to check if it’s still good
FACT: You can’t taste, smell, or see the germs that cause food poisoning. Tasting only a tiny amount can make you very sick and isn’t recommended. Check the federal government’s storage times chart to see how long you can store food safely. When the time is up, throw it out. Labeling leftovers with the date it was made and storing older food items towards the front of the refrigerator can help ensure that food will not go to waste. And as the saying goes, “when in doubt, toss it out.”
MYTH #3: You can thawing or marinate food on the counter
FACT: When food is left out at room temperature, harmful bacteria can multiply quickly. Instead. use this chart to thaw food safely. You can thaw foods:
- In the refrigerator: At a temperature of 41-degrees Fahrenheit or below. Make sure to place it in a container or sheet pan in case it drips and not next to any food that is ready-to-eat.
- In cold water: Smaller pieces of food can be thawed under cool, running water that’s 70-degrees Fahrenheit or below. You don’t want to use hot water as you will begin cooking the food. You can place the food in a bowl and fill it with cool water, but make sure to change the water every 30 minutes.
- In the microwave: Due to the uneven distribution of heat in the microwave, if you choose to defrost in the microwave then cook the food immediately after. It can be cooked any way you like including continuing to cook in the microwave, stove top, oven, or grill.
MYTH #4: It’s acceptable to peel fruits and vegetables without washing them first
FACT: Fruits and vegetables may have germs on their peel or skin that can make you sick. It’s easy to transfer those microbes to the inside of fruits and vegetables when you cut or peel them. Therefore, it’s important to wash all fruits and vegetables under running water even if you’re going to peel them. Use a clean vegetable brush to scrub firm fruits and vegetables like melons, avocados, and cucumbers. Be sure to cut raw fruits and vegetables on separate cutting boards from raw meat to prevent cross-contamination.
MYTH #5: You can eat raw batter or dough, including cookie dough, and other foods with uncooked eggs or uncooked flour
FACT: Flour and uncooked eggs may contain Escherichia coli (E. coli), Salmonella, or other harmful bacteria. Cook or bake flour and eggs thoroughly to proper temperatures using this chart. Don’t eat foods that contain raw or undercooked eggs, such as runny eggs, or homemade mayonnaise, hollandaise sauce, and eggnog. Uncooked dough or raw batter that contains either flour or eggs is also unsafe to eat. Keep raw dough away from children, including play dough. Wash hands, work surfaces, and utensils thoroughly after contact with flour, eggs, and raw dough.
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