Myths and misunderstandings about food safety
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Cooked starch foods like potatoes, rice, beans or pasta can grow germs if not kept cold in the fridge or hot over 140º F. So put the potatoes in the fridge with no cover to cool quickly. Cool all hot foods this way. Then use cold ingredients to make the potato salad. Note that commercially-made mayonnaise is required by law to have vinegar or lemon juice as one ingredient, and these slow germs from growing due to its high acidity. You should still keep your mayo in the fridge though, so it doesn't turn clear which is not too appetizing.
Yes but to a limited degree.
Alternative barriers like spoons, tongs or gloves are necessary since you don't wash off all the germs from your hands. Better yet, if possible, ask another family member to do the cooking when you are ill.
Although hand sanitizers can effectively kill some germs on your hands, they do little to reduce the surface tension between your skin and dirt/grease/germs. The sanitizer only has an effect on the outer layer of film on your hands. Some bad germs are still present. When washing hands, first wet your hands with warm water, lather with soap for at least 20 seconds, rinse with warm water, then dry with a clean towel.
This type of light rinsing of produce will not remove germs from the soil where produce is grown or from contact by store and field workers. Did they wash their hands after using the toilet then touched your food? Have other store patrons washed their hands after using the toilet when picking up produce before putting it back after deciding to not buy it?
It's how much heat is in the middle of the meat that matters! Bacteria, or other germs, need time, food and moisture (or wetness) to grow; but they won't grow when the temperature of the food is colder than 41º F or hotter than 135º F. The temperatures in between 41º and 135º are in the "Danger Zone." Keep potentially hazardous foods out of the "Danger Zone!" For example, when food is left in the "Danger Zone", bacteria can grow fast, and make poisons that can make your customers and family very sick.
Buy a metal stem thermometer to take internal temperatures of foods and make sure to cook meats to the following minimum internal temperatures:
Rather than cleanliness, food safety practices should be evaluated to determine whether food is safe. Hot foods must be hot, cold foods must be cold. Food workers must wash their hands and make sure utensils are cleaned between raw and ready-to-eat food preparation.
Bad smell, bad taste and slime are signs that the food has lost its quality, but not that it has the germs to cause foodborne illness. The germs and toxins that cause foodborne illness do not change the smell or taste of the food. You cannot see if the food is contaminated. Only proper preparation, cooking and storage lowers the risk of foodborne illness.
Red meat contains a pigment called oxymyoglobin. When meat is exposed to air this natural pigment combines with oxygen to produce the red color referred to as "bloom." The inside portion of the meat, while just as wholesome, may be darker due to the lack of oxygen. This is not an attempt to camouflage older ground beef.
Pull dates are established by the Washington State Department of Agriculture for all perishable packaged goods that have a shelf life of thirty days or less because they have a high risk of spoilage. It is legal though to sell products that have exceeded their "pull" date. If the product is being sold past the "pull" date, the retailer is required to verify that the product continues to appear wholesome and is without danger to health. These products need to be clearly identified as having passed the pull date.
For additional food safety myths, visit the Washington State Dept. of Health's website.