September is National Food Safety Education Month and the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) encourages all Iowans to learn the truth behind common food safety ‘myths.’ According to the Partnership for Food Safety Education (PFSE), there are many misunderstandings about food safety, but four are the most common:
Myth: Freezing foods kills harmful bacteria that can cause food poisoning.
Fact: Bacteria can survive freezing temperatures. Freezing is not a method for making foods safe to eat. When food is thawed, bacteria can still be present and may begin to multiply. Cooking food to the proper internal temperature is the best way to kill harmful bacteria. Use a thermometer to measure the temperature of cooked foods.
Myth: I eat a vegetarian diet, so I don’t have to worry about food poisoning.
Fact: Fruits and vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet, but like other foods they may carry a risk of foodborne illness. Always rinse produce under running tap water, including fruits and vegetables with skins and rinds that are not eaten. Never use detergent or bleach to wash fresh fruits or vegetables as these products are not intended for consumption. Packaged fruits and vegetables labeled “ready-to-eat” or “washed” do not need to be re-washed.
Myth: Plastic or glass cutting boards don’t hold harmful bacteria on their surfaces like wooden cutting boards do.
Fact: Any type of cutting board can hold harmful bacteria on its surface. Regardless of the type of cutting board you use, it should be washed and sanitized after each use. Solid plastic, tempered glass, sealed granite, and hardwood cutting boards are dishwasher safe. However, wood laminates don’t hold up well in the dishwasher. Once cutting boards of any type become excessively worn or develop hard-to-clean grooves, they should be discarded.
Myth: Locally-grown, organic foods will never give me food poisoning.
Fact: Any food, whether organic or conventional, could become unsafe with illness-causing foodborne bacteria at any point during the chain from the farm to the table. Consumers in their homes can take action to keep their families safe. That is why it is important to reduce your risk of foodborne illness by practicing the four steps: Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill.
To learn more about how to reduce your risk of foodborne illness, and for additional information about food safety myths, visit www.idph.state.ia.us/eh/food_safety.asp <www.idph.state.ia.us/eh/food_safety.asp> .