We all hear advices every now and then regarding food safety. Some hold true while others prove to be just plain false. It’s important to look after yours and your family’s health. We must educate ourselves in order to prevent food poisoning. Keeping the information updated and well researched is how we can separate common food safety misconceptions from good advice. Disease causing bacteria show rapid growth at temperatures between 40 °F and 140 °F. The temperature of the home refrigerator must be kept 40 degrees constantly to effectively reduce the chances of foodborne illness.
Surely there are a lot of misconceptions around about food safety, interestingly enough many revolving around just the home refrigerator. It’s pretty common to hear about the outbreak of an infection and when some fruit or vegie is discovered to be the root cause, surprise levels are high. Experts suggest that trust in the safety of fruits and vegetables might be common misconceptions about food safety. Since people tend to worry more about meat and not the fresh produce it increases the risks, raw fruits and vegetables presents in food borne diseases.
In fact, in a survey conducted by Harvard School of Public Health, out of 1500 adults 82% voted raw fish, 80% voted medium or rare cooked hamburger, as at least somewhat risky while mere 36% voted fruits and vegetables to be a health risk. Another study found the foods identified most commonly linked to the food poisoning outbreaks, between 1990 and 2003, were seafood (899) followed by produce (554), then poultry (476), beef (438) and eggs (329). “Fresh fruits and vegetables have been one of, if not the most, significant source of food-borne illness in the past decade,” says Douglas Powell, scientific director of the Food Safety Network at Kansas State University.
The reason why people have common misconceptions about food safety and tend to blame meat in particular is the high number of cases on its tab. Another reason is that lately people have been hearing a lot of news about the mad cow disease cases reported in Canada US and England. In attempts to raise more awareness against common misconceptions about food safety public food safety campaigns are often run. People not viewing fruits and vegetables presenting any health threats are informed about the dangers of not treating them with proper handling as opposed to meat or poultry or sea food.
From the farm to the local grocery store fresh produce is vulnerable to contamination in many ways. Local produce is safe is a common misconceptions about food safety. Contact with untreated manure, polluted water at the farm, dirty storage and transport facilities and in between workers with poor hygiene, all put forward the chances of contamination. The consumers need to pay attention to food recalls to avoid and remove affected from their houses along with practicing recommended safety measures at home.
Another common misconception about food safety is that cooking the food thoroughly may provide protection against food borne diseases. This up to some extent may hold true but E. coli, Salmonella, botulism and mad cow disease are total exceptions. And where even the cooking heat seems not enough to kill the germs, eating cookie dough or licking the cake batter must be avoided by kids as well as adults. Raw ingredients present far more risks of germs as compared to the final baked product.
We have compiled here a list of World’s top ten most common misconceptions about food safety, for your convenience.
10. Ready to Eat Packaged Greens
Your packaged and sealed vegetables are labeled “Ready to Eat” but the thought of giving them an extra wash seems ok too. After all, who knows for sure? But it is common misconception about food safety, for these “washed” or “triple washed” labels are placed for a reason. These ready to eat green are prepared keeping your safety in mind for sure and rinsing these only add up chances of them getting contaminated from different surfaces like your kitchen countertop, utensils or even your own hands. Germs can be found at any of these finding their way to good clean veggies.
9: Refrigerator is Cold for Cross-Contamination
This too is common misconception about food safety; for certain bacteria may very well be able to survive perfectly in the cold moist refrigerator environment. Listeria monocytogenes is one example which survives temperatures as low as 35.6 degree F. A study revealed that refrigerator produce compartments are one of the places in the kitchen where largest amount of germs dwell and where the presence of Salmonella and listeria were reported.
Raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs must be kept separated from fresh fruits and vegetables in a refrigerator. To reduce the risk of cross contamination refrigerator must be cleaned regularly with soap and water. Spills are to be wiped cleaned immediately.
8. Rinsing the Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
After a rinse, the importance of blotting and drying your fruits and vegetables is under estimated. Taking a step further towards drying minimizes the risk of bacterial growth on your fresh produce. So cleaning your fresh produce must include these two steps; washing them thoroughly under clean running water, and, drying them with a clean cloth or preferably paper towel.
7. Melons don’t need Rinsing
Well sure the rind is not eaten but it’s a misconception about food safety that the germs cannot pierce the fruit. Pathogens are tiny germs that can find their way inside into the pulp. The knife or the peeler will surely transfer the surface pathogens from the unwashed rind to the edible portion.
When fruits are sliced and served without peeling unwashed rind touching the fleshy part of the fruit will get it contaminated. So it’s always a good idea to rub and wash the fruit under clean running water and then dry with a kitchen towel.
6. Knowing by Feeling that your Refrigerator is Cold Enough
It is a common misconception about food safety that human senses are reliable parameters; use a thermometer to be sure about the temperature inside your refrigerator. Never confuse it with the dial provided inside. Up to 43% of home refrigerators were found to have been above 40 degrees F, which introduces them into the danger zone of suitable temperature for bacterial growth.
The temperature must be below 40 degrees F to keep harmful bacteria from multiplying and getting your family sick. Use the thermometer to check the temperature and then adjust the dial to lower scale. Once again ensure proper cold environment is achieved.
5. Refrigerator is Cold for Bacterial Survival
Bacterium strain Listeria is well known for its survival at temperatures below 40 degree F. So if cross contamination is to be avoided fresh fruits and vegetables must be separated from meat poultry and seafood. Regular cleanups are in order, from top to bottom.
4: Bacteria will die Eventually once put Inside the Refrigerator
The cold environment of refrigerator can only slow down bacterial growth but, killing the already existing ones is a common misconception about food safety. Once left out for long period food spoilage already begins. For the sake of your family’s health, always freeze leftover or cooked food that stayed out for more than two hours. For under an hour you can refrigerate but not for more than a few days. If longer than a few days is required freezing is the best option.
3: Refrigerator Produce Bin Require no Cleaning
As mentioned previously, refrigeration only slows down the bacterial growth. Naturally occurring bacteria on the surface of fruits and vegetables will eventually multiply and cross contamination will take place. This build up must be preventing by avoiding this common misconception about food safety with regular cleaning practices as mentioned previously. Along with the bins, walls and other compartments are no exceptions. All must be cleaned with soap warm water and let air dry
2. Thermometer isn’t Necessary for Meat in Food Safety
Upon experts’ recommendation, using the food thermometers is an excellent way to be sure that your meat poultry or egg dish has been cooked to the proper safe internal temperature. Guessing might get us into trouble because it’s common misconceptions about food safety, of course it’s hard to know just by looking that whether the poultry juice is running clear or the meat is brown enough to tell, that it’s all properly cooked.
1. Heat and Eat
Microwave oven is magic be sure to be aware of this common misconception about food safety. Sure the heat produced in the microwave kills the germs but microwaves often heat the food unevenly leaving cold spots where germs are left unharmed leaving the food at a risk of further spoilage. Microwave cooked foods need to be checked for internal temperatures.
Kids can use microwaves properly by carefully following package instructions. Even simple “heat and eat” snacks come with instructions that need to be followed to ensure a safe product. Use a food thermometer to ensure even heating and food safety.