The Center for Disease Control estimates that 1 in 6 Americans suffer from food poisoning each year. That translates into 48 million people suffering from miserable stomach issues, headaches, dehydration or worse. Some types of food poisoning can lead to serious debilitating conditions like kidney failure, meningitis and still birth. Knowledge is power in protecting you and your family from food poisoning.
MYTH #1: “The mayo in Aunt Sally’s potato salad made us all sick.”
TRUTH: If Aunt Sally used a store-bought mayonnaise, it is more likely that whatever was swimming in the mayonnaise made you sick. Commercially produced mayo contains vinegar or lemon juice which helps keep bacteria contained.
MYTHS #2 and 2 1/2: “I’m cooking all the food together, I don’t need separate cutting boards or utensils. Plus, I rinsed off the chicken (steak, seafood) so I’m sure it’s safe.”
TRUTH: Using the same cutting board and utensils for everything is an invitation to cross-contamination. Once the bacteria from your meat has started spreading, cooking does not guarantee that someone will not get sick. Rinsing meat does nothing to protect you from bacteria. It will manage to spread bacteria all over your counters and sink.
MYTHS #3 and 3 1/2: “Thawing meat on the counter is fine – it’s starting frozen and germs don’t live in frozen environments. Besides, I’m going to marinate this meat on the counter and the acidic contents of the marinade will take care of any problems.”
TRUTH: Yes, the meat starts frozen, but as it warms up, bacteria begins to flourish. Let’s not even think about someone passing the thawing meat and sneezing on/near it or the possibility of a curious pet having a lick or two. The sneeze or the pet is unlikely to make you sick, but it’s gross. Never count on your marinade to protect you from food-born illness. Marinade in the fridge for maximum safety.
MYTHS #4: “I love my grocery store! They have a sprinkler system in the produce department. I don’t have to wash my produce.”
TRUTH: The store’s sprinkler system gives the impression of freshness. It is not a substitute for washing produce. Be safe. Wash produce when you get home.
MYTH #5: “I always cool hot leftovers on the counter for an hour or two before I put them in the fridge. It’s better for the fridge and the food is fine because it’s still hot.”
TRUTH: It’s safer to put the hot food in the fridge. Split large quantities into smaller, shallower containers so they cool quickly. Leaving food on the counter to cool allows bacteria to breed and spread.
Learn the facts and pass the potato salad.