See how well you know the dos and don’ts of food safety so you can avoid food-borne illness this holiday season!
True or False:
1. The top shelf of the refrigerator is the worst place to store a raw turkey until cooking time.
True. Store your bird on the lowest shelf possible. This helps to prevent raw turkey juices from dripping down and contaminating foods stored on lower shelves. Keep the bird well-wrapped in plastic and on a tray large enough to catch all raw juices.
2. It is not necessary to wash fruits and vegetables that will be peeled.
False. During food preparation, it is best to wash all fruits and vegetables using cold, running water. As you peel and slice, bacteria from outer skins can be transferred to the insides from your knife or peeler. This is especially important when preparing vegetables that will not be cooked, such as raw fruit and vegetable platters.
3. It is essential to rinse a raw turkey with cold, running water before preparing it for the oven.
False. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), rinsing a raw turkey in the kitchen sink can generate a fine spray of germ-contaminated water that settles on surrounding surfaces up to three feet away! Skip this rinsing step to avoid showering yourself and your kitchen with turkey germs! They will be destroyed in the cooking process.
4. Cutting boards used for raw fruits and vegetables should not be reused for raw meats, poultry and fish.
True. In the busy holiday kitchen, it’s best to designate a separate cutting board for raw vegetables and one for raw meats, poultry and fish. That will help reduce the risk of cross-contamination. Between uses, USDA recommends washing your cutting board with hot, soapy water, then sanitizing it with a dilute chlorine bleach solution made by mixing ½ tablespoon of bleach with ½ gallon of clean water.
5. Foods can remain on the dinner table for 3-4 hours before being refrigerated for future consumption.
False. Leftovers will be safe for Black Friday and a bit beyond if you refrigerate them no longer than two hours after placing them on the table, according to the USDA. And it is not necessary to cool down hot dishes before refrigerating or freezing them. Maintain the refrigerator temperature at 40 degrees F or below, and the freezer temperature at 0 degrees F or below.
6. You can always tell when food has spoiled because it will have an “off” odor.
False. Sniffing is not a fail-safe test of freshness, according to USDA. Some foods may be contaminated with bacteria and not smell funny. Follow basic food safety principles — pay attention to expiration dates; separate and store foods properly, refrigerating when required; cook to recommended temperatures; and don’t take chances — when in doubt, throw it out!
7. Washing your hands frequently helps avoid your becoming an agent of cross-contamination in your own kitchen.
True. Your hands can transfer germs from one surface to another. Wash your hands for 20 seconds using warm water and soap between kitchen tasks, but especially after contacting raw foods or using the bathroom. Make sure children they know how important it is to wash their hands thoroughly before and after helping.
Lastly, remember that disposable gloves can be sanitary and useful, but they too can transfer germs from one surface to another, so they should be changed between tasks.
Have a delicious, safe and fabulous Thanksgiving!
Source: Water Quality & Health Council