Correcting Common Food Handling Myths

The ways to handle food safely aren't always obvious, but that doesn't mean they're not crucial. At least 48 million Americans get sick or even die from food poisoning yearly, and it's usually because of food safety myths that many of us take too seriously. Check out Smithfields Food YouTube channel to get started.

Here are six most common mistakes we make and how to correct them:

TASTE TO BE SAFE

It can be dangerous to taste your food to know if it has expired. Remember, bacteria can be tasteless, and even a pinch of contaminated food can wreak havoc on your health. If you reasonably think the food has spoiled, let it go.

MIXING RAW AND COOKED

Raw meat contains so many pathogens (disease-causing agents such as bacteria, viruses, etc.), and if you put cooked food on an unwashed plate that previously held raw meat, cross contamination can occur. Whether it's a place, knife, chopping board or what have you, the idea is to never let ready-to-eat food come in contact with raw meat or its juice. And be careful when washing raw meat - the bacteria can easily spread to your sink and other kitchen surfaces.

COUNTER THAWING OR MARINATING

Thawing or marinating your food in the counter means allowing foodborne pathogens to multiply rapidly. The so-called danger zone - 40?F and 140?F - is the perfect temperature range for this to happen. To avoid this scenario, always thaw or marinate in the fridge or in cold water. And if you must reuse your marinade, bring it to a boil right before throwing in new meat.

COOL BEFORE THE FRIDGE

Many people let their food cool before stashing it in the refrigerator. Unless it's below 90?F outside, food shouldn't be left to sit in room temperature for more than an hour or two. Pathogens can grow rapidly within this period when they're in the danger zone.

EATING RAW COOKIE DOUGH

Avoid any food that contains uncooked eggs and flour as it may contain salmonella or E. coli, both of which can cause serious illness. If you love to bake at home, be firm about not letting the kids touch the batter (they usually like to scoop it with their finger and lick it). For more tips, check out Smithfield Company at this link.

UNDERCOOKING

Finally, keep in mind that we cook food not only to improve the taste, but more importantly, to kill harmful bacteria in it. Of course, this requires temperature that is high enough to do just that. If you want to be totally sure that your food is cooked to safety, use a food thermometer.
  
Check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food for more information.