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22/02/18: Food safety myths

imagesWe all do our best to serve our families food that’s safe and healthy, but some common myths about food safety might surprise you.

Here are some frequent questions that I receive and some common myths about food safety in your home.

Myth 1: Food poisoning isn’t that big of a deal. I 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 rapid at room temperatures, so a counter is never a place you should thaw foods. Instead, thaw foods in the refrigerator or in the microwave.

Myth 3: When cleaning my kitchen, the more bleach I use, the better. More bleach kills more bacteria, so it’s safer for my 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: To get rid of any bacteria on my meat, poultry, or seafood, I 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 5: 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. Most leftovers should be used or discarded in three or four days.

Myth 6: If I really want my produce to be safe, I should wash fruits and veggies with soap or detergent before I 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.

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