September is Food Safety Month: Separate the Myths from the Facts
By Nan Jensen, Extension Agent
Family and Consumer Sciences
We do our best to serve our families food that’s safe and healthy, to reduce their risk of food borne illness, a serious public health issue that causes approximately one in six Americans to get sick each year. Washing our hands, clean and sanitizing work surfaces, keeping hot foods hot and cold foods cold, and cooking foods to the proper internal temperature are some of the steps we can take to ensure that our food is safe to eat.
Sometimes though, we don’t have all the facts right. Here are some common myths from The Partnership for Food Safety Education about food safety that might surprise you.
Myth # 1-“If I microwave the food, the microwaves kill the bacteria so the food is safe.”
Fact #1– Microwaves are not what kill bacteria- it’s the heat generated by the microwaves that kills bacteria in foods. Food needs to be heated to a safe internal temperature. Always check for a safe internal temperature after microwaving. Use a thermometer!
Myth # 2– “Of course I wash all the bagged lettuce and greens- I could get sick if I don’t.”
Fact #2– While it is important to wash most fresh fruits and veggies, packaged greens labeled “ready-to-eat”, “washed” or “triple washed” do NOT need to be washed at home.
Myth # 3– “I don’t need to use a food thermometer. I can tell when my food is cooked by looking at it or checking the temperature with my finger.”
Fact #3– The only sure way to know food is safely cooked is to check the temperature with a food thermometer and confirm it has reached a safe internal temperature.
Myth # 4-“I can’t re-freeze foods after I have thawed them. I have to cook them or throw them away.”
Fact #4– If raw foods such as meat, poultry, egg products and seafood have been thawed in the refrigerator, then they may be safely re-frozen without cooking for later use.