Summer Food Safety Myths and Tips
FOX 47 News
Photo: Video by fox47news.com
Between the potato salad and the raw meat, eating outside during the summer months can get risky. We sort the mistakes and myths when it comes to summer food so you don't get sick.
Summertime spent outside can be a dangerous place for food. But some summertime food fears are simply unfounded. Dianne Van with the U.S. Department of Agriculture helped us bust some food safety myths.
The most common myth: mayonnaise-based salads left unrefrigerated can make you sick.
"Mayo is not the problem. They are acidified and pasteurized. It's the food you put them on that support bacterial growth," says Van.
So treat mayonnaise salads like any food: refrigerate after two hours, one hour if it's hot weather. Want more time? Put your picnic foods on ice.
Food safety myth number two: you should never cook directly on a public grill.
"Well that's not true. As long as you clean before you use it, there's no reason why you can't use a public grill or your home grill if it's dirty," Van explains. "The best way is to heat the charcoal or the gas up and make sure it gets to about 500 degrees and that will burn any dirt or soil and then you can take a brush or some foil and you can just clean your grill."
Another common myth: you should wash meat and poultry before cooking. False.
In fact, bacteria in raw meat and poultry juices can splash and spread to other foods, utensils, and surfaces if you rinse before cooking.
Next myth: grilled foods increase your risk for cancer.
"Grilled foods are safe in moderation and certainly you want to avoid charring on any of the meat according to the National Cancer Institute."
You can preven charring by cutting the fat of your raw meat and poultry before grilling. Use indirect heat when grilling. And if the food does char, cut it off before eating.
Here's another myth: you can tell when your food is cooked by looking at it.
"Not true. One in four hamburgers may look brown and look done but it hasn't reached the safe minimum internal temperature. The only way to tell for sure is to use a food thermometer and make sure it reaches 160-degrees."
Myth: plastic or glass cutting boards don't hold bacteria like wooden cutting boards.
"Not true - whether they're plastic, glass, or wooden, the important thing is to make sure you wash them in hot soapy water." And occasionally you can clean them with a mild bleach solution.
But don't fall for this myth: the more bleach you use, the more bacteria you kill. You should only use one tablespoon of bleach to a gallon of water to wash countertops or cutting boards.
If you think freezing food kills bacteria: wrong. Bacteria can survive freezing temperatures.
When food is thawed, bacteria can still be present and even multiply.
Need to put away hot leftovers? Here's the myth: you should never put hot food in the refrigerator.
"That's not true. It's more dangerou to forget and leave it out longer than two hours, so put it in shallow containers and get it into the refrigerator.
Forget the myths and keep food safety facts in mind this summer. It will keep you and your family safe.