How much do you really know about keeping food safe? Yesterday, we published the first half of this list of food safety tips. This is Part 2.
SAFETY WITH EGGS
Myth #9: “Eggs are safe as long as the shell is not cracked. Germs can only get in through cracks.” Reality: Salmonella, one of the bacteria that cause food poisoning, can grow inside fresh, unbroken eggs. Cook eggs until the yolk and white are firm, not runny. Scramble eggs to a firm texture. You can safely enjoy your eggs over easy, but not sunny-side up.
To ensure safety, cook the eggs by flipping once so that the egg white is completely cooked and the egg yolk is starting to gel. Don’t use recipes in which eggs remain raw or only partially cooked.
Myth #10: “Hard boiled eggs are safe and don’t need to be refrigerated.” Reality: Keep boiled eggs on ice, in a cooler, or in a cold pack if the eggs will not be eaten within two hours. Just because they are cooked, doesn’t mean they can’t grow bacteria.
Even if there’s no crack, an egg can be contaminated with bacteria. Photo by Kasey Albano | SXC.
WHAT ABOUT MOLD?
“Myth #11: “If there is just a little bit of mold on top of the food, I can scrape it off. What’s underneath is still good.” Reality: The mold you see is only the tip of the iceberg. Typically, the bacteria or toxins are found under the surface of the food. Although you can salvage hard cheeses, salamis and firm fruits and vegetables by cutting the mold out, most foods should be discarded.
SAFETY WITH POULTRY & MAYONNAISE Myth #12: “Mayonnaise is often the cause of food-borne illness.” Reality: Commercially purchased mayonnaise is pasteurized and has a high acid content that actually slows bacteria growth. Mayonnaise does not cause food poisoning, bacteria do. And bacteria grow best on foods that contain protein and are at temperatures between 40°-140°F. At greater risk for developing bacteria are the foods mayonnaise is commonly mixed with for picnics and potlucks, such as eggs, chicken, pasta, potatoes and tuna.
Their small, cut-up surfaces allow the bacteria to grow in the right environment. But even these foods will be safe if you keep your cooler below 40°F. Don’t guess: Use a thermometer.
Don’t thaw turkey or other poultry on the counter. You’ve just got to make room in the fridge. Photo by Evegny B | Fotolia.
Myth #13: “It is okay to let turkey thaw out on the kitchen counter. Everyone does it that way.” Reality: You should NEVER thaw poultry at room temperature. Because it is impossible to ensure that raw poultry is free of harmful bacteria, you must rely on temperature to control or eliminate the harmful bacteria.
Bacteria tend to multiply and increase their population between 45°F and 140°F. By leaving raw turkey or any other raw poultry at room temperature, you are giving bacteria the the opportunity to grow.
It is best to thaw the poultry in the refrigerator. You can use other thawing methods, such as microwaving or running cool water over the bird, but these alternative methods need to be followed by immediate cooking.
BBQs, PICNICS, POTLUCKS & TAILGATES
Myth #14: “If food is kept in a cooler, it will be maintained at the proper temperature.” Reality: The only way to know for sure if your cooler or refrigerator is at the proper temperature is with a thermometer. You want to make sure your cold foods stay below 40°F. Another precaution is to pack raw meat and cooked or ready to eat foods in separate coolers. This can help to avoid any potential cross-contamination from spilled juices.
Pack coolers tight with ice, store in a cool spot and keep them closed as much as possible. Only open when necessary and when it is time to cook or serve the food. Keep drinks in their own cooler so you can open and shut it frequently without having to worry about lowering the temperature of the food. Myth #15: “Food can be left at room or outdoor temperature for more than two hours.” Reality: Because bacteria grow rapidly in the “danger zone” between 40°F and 140°F, food left at room temperature for more than two hours should be discarded. When the temperature outside is 90°F or hotter, picnic or barbecue food should be discarded after just one hour.
Now you know 15 ways to keep your food safe. If you have more food safety questions, let us know.