In my relatively short life, I have had the great fortune of only experiencing the symptoms of food poisoning a handful of times. If you have ever experienced it yourself, you know firsthand just how painful and debilitating it can be. While people have tried to prevent it for years, the main issue comes when people mix facts with myths and think they are safe when it comes to eating a food when they are not. I’ll go over some of the myths as well as some of the facts to help keep you and yours safe from harm.
The Myth: If I freeze the food, it will be safe to eat.
The facts: I freeze a lot of different types of meat and I tell people all the time that they should buy frozen fish instead of fresh because freezing fish eliminates harmful worms, but that doesn’t mean it’s completely safe to eat. A lot of bacteria will die when frozen, but potentially deadly bacteria like e-coli and other bacteria which cause food poisoning and sickness will not die. The only sure way to prevent this is to cook all food properly and at the right temperature.
The myth: If a restaurant has good inspection grades and health reviews, I won’t get foodborne illness from there.
The facts: While inspection reports are important to ensuring that an outbreak is less likely to happen, like anything else in life nothing is guaranteed. If you need any more proof about this think about all the times you have been at work and others around you have been sick. A common cold may seem innocent enough at the time, but it could be the difference between you being healthy and being sick. I’m not saying to take inspection grades with a grain of salt, but that you should always be on the lookout for potential problems no matter where you are.
Myth: If something looks cooked and there is no blood, it is safe to eat.
The facts: While color can be an indicator that something might be done cooking, you should always follow the center for disease controls advice on checking the temperature. There are many dishes that don’t look done to the human eye, but can be served in that manner because they have reached the proper internal temperature to kill bacteria. Always check the internal temperature of foods that require it along with checking the color. In food like fish where it’s hard to check an internal temperature, you should use a fork and check to see if the skin is flaky and the color is milky white.
Myth: Hot food is okay if left out as long as it is kept at room temperature for three hours.
The facts: It’s never okay to leave food out for any extended period of time. Food is safest right after it’s cooked as the internal temperature is where it needs to be. The longer food sits out the faster its internal temperature will go down. As your foods internal temperature falls bacteria will begin to form on it and your likelihood of foodborne illness increases. If food is left out more than two hours it needs to be thrown out immediately.
Myth: The vegetable washing machines at the grocery store keep germs off produce.
The facts: The grocery store would like to have you believe that they are cleaning produce, but in the end the only reason they mist the produce is to keep it looking fresh. This is the same reason that grocery stores have fluorescent lighting in all of their stores. You should always properly wash your produce before using it by using a soft scrub brush and cold water.