Of course, we all want to cook and serve food that’s safe and healthy for everyone, every time. But do we really know what it takes to ensure each meal is prepared safely? FoodSafety.gov has exposed 10 common myths below. The truth might surprise you.
Myth 1: Food poisoning isn’t that big of a deal. You just have to tough it out for a day or two and then it’s over. Fact: Some foodborne illnesses can lead to long-term health conditions, and 3,000 Americans a year die from foodborne illness.
Myth 2: It’s okay to thaw meat on the counter. Since the food starts out frozen, bacteria isn’t really a problem. Fact: Bacteria grow surprisingly fast at room temperature, so you should never thaw foods on the counter. Instead, do it in the refrigerator, cold water or the microwave.
Myth 3: When cleaning the kitchen, the more bleach you use, the better to keep your family safe.
Fact: There’s 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: You don’t need to wash fruits or vegetables if you’re going to peel them.
Fact: It’s easy to transfer bacteria from the peel or rind you’re cutting to the inside of your fruits and veggies, so always wash produce, even if you plan to peel it.
Myth 5: To get rid of bacteria on meat, poultry or seafood, you should rinse off the juices with water first.
Fact: Rinsing these foods 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 prepare meat, poultry or seafood safely is to ensure you cook it to the right temperature.
Myth 6: The only reason to let food sit after it’s been microwaved is to ensure you don’t burn yourself.
Fact: Letting microwaved food sit for a few minutes helps your food cook more completely by allowing colder areas of food time to absorb heat from hotter areas of food.
Myth 7: Leftovers are safe to eat until they smell bad.
Fact: The kinds of bacteria that cause food poisoning don’t affect the look, smell or taste of food. Follow safe storage times, freeze or toss leftovers after a couple of days, and when in doubt, throw it out.
Myth 8: Once food has been cooked, all the bacteria have been killed, so you don’t need to worry once it’s “done.”
Fact: The possibility of bacterial growth increases after cooking because the drop in temperature allows bacteria to thrive. This is why keeping cooked food warmed to the right temperature is critical for food safety.
Myth 9: Marinades are acidic, which kills bacteria—so it’s okay to marinate foods on the counter.
Fact: Even in the presence of acidic marinade, bacteria can grow rapidly at room temperature. To marinate food safely, place it in the refrigerator.
Myth 10: If you really want produce to be safe, you should wash fruits and veggies with soap or detergent before using them.
Fact: Soaps or detergents can linger on foods and aren’t safe for consumption. Using clean running water is the best way to remove bacteria and wash produce safely.