17/10/17: Food safety myths and facts

Assorted foodRight now, there may be an invisible enemy ready to strike. He’s called bacteria and he can make people sick. Even though consumers can’t see bacteria or smell him, or feel him, he and millions more like him may already be invading food products, kitchen surfaces, knives and other utensils.

You have the power to reduce your risk of foodborne illness. Here are three myths shared by the Partnership for Food Safety Education which supports consumers to fight food poisoning.

Myth: Cross contamination doesn’t happen in the refrigerator — it is too cold in there for germs to survive!

Fact: Some bacteria can survive and even grow in cool, moist environments like the refrigerator. In fact, Listeria Monocytogenes grows at temperatures as low as 35.6 degrees Fahrenheit. A recent study from NSF International revealed that the refrigerator produce compartment was one of the “germiest” places in the kitchen, containing Salmonella and Listeria.

In your refrigerator, keep fresh fruits and vegetables separate from raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs. Clean your refrigerator regularly with hot water and soap and clean up food and beverage spills immediately to reduce the risk of cross-contamination. Don’t forget to clean refrigerator walls and undersides of shelves!

Myth: I don’t need to rinse this melon for safety — the part I eat is on the inside!

Fact: Sure you’re not eating the rind of the melon, but there are many ways for pathogens on the outside of the melon to contaminate the edible portion. A knife or peeler passing through the rind can carry pathogens from the outside into the flesh of the melon. The rind also touches the edible portion when fruit is arranged or stacked for serving and garnish. Play it safe and rinse your melon under running tap water while rubbing by hand or scrubbing with a clean brush. Dry the melon with a clean cloth or paper towel.

Myth: Putting chicken in a colander and rinsing it with water will remove bacteria like Salmonella.

Fact: Rinsing chicken in a colander will not remove bacteria. In fact, it can spread raw juices around your sink, onto your counter tops, and onto ready-to-eat foods. Bacteria in raw meat and poultry can only be killed when cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature, which for poultry is 165 degrees Fahrenheit, as measured by a food thermometer. Save yourself the messiness of rinsing raw poultry. It is not a safety step and can cause cross-contamination. Always use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of your food.

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