Sometimes it’s hard to know what’s fact or fiction when it comes to food safety. To help protect you and your loved ones from food poisoning, we put some of the most common food safety beliefs to the test.
#1 Fact or Myth: Food poisoning is rare. Plus, there are no long-term effects.
Myth! Food poisoning causes an estimated 48 million illnesses (1 out of every 6 Americans) and 3,000 deaths each year. The symptoms of food poisoning can be similar to the flu, so people often don’t know they’re suffering from food poisoning. It’s important to take food poisoning risks seriously, as some cases can lead to long-term health conditions, especially for those at high risk.
#2 Fact or Myth: It’s okay to eat food that’s been on the floor for five seconds or less, a.k.a the five-second rule.
Myth! Food can pick up bacteria as soon as it hits the floor. By the time you count to five, your food could be full of bacteria that could make you sick. It’s important to note that you can’t see bacteria so even a clean-looking floor can contain harmful bacteria. The safest choice, when in doubt, throw it out! It’s better to waste a little bit of food than to fall prey to food poisoning.
#3 Fact or Myth: Chicken is the leading cause of food poisoning.
Myth! A 2013 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found contaminated salad greens make more people sick than raw chicken (Note: Chicken causes the most deaths). Always remember to properly wash all produce before eating, and cook meat to a safe temperature.
#4 Fact or Myth: Marinate in the refrigerator.
Fact! Always make sure the marinating container is fully covered and place it in the refrigerator (at or below 40°F), never on the kitchen counter. This will keep food out of the “danger zone,” between 40°F to 140°F, where harmful bacteria multiplies rapidly. Keep food safe by refrigerating at 40°F or below within two hours or one hour if the temperature is above 90°F.
#5 Fact or Myth: Hamburgers are done when they turn brown.
Myth! One out of every four hamburgers turns brown before it reaches a safe temperature. Don’t rely upon sight alone to tell if your food is done. A food thermometer is the only reliable way to ensure food is safely cooked. According to a 2011 survey from the Home Food Safety program, only 23 percent of Americans use a food thermometer to check the doneness of meat and poultry items. Reduce your risk of food poisoning by using a food thermometer.
#6 Fact or Myth: It’s important to wash raw chicken in the sink.
Myth! You should never wash raw meats, poultry or fish in the sink before cooking or storing, because rinsing raw meat can spread bacteria all over the sink.