September 16, 2014

View as List Test Your Food Safety Smarts

  • woman with upset stomach lying on couch

    Foodborne illnesses caused by E. coli and some other microbes are on the decline in the U.S. That’s the good news. But tens of millions of Americans still get sick every year—and an estimated 5,000 die—from eating contaminated food. Take our quiz to see how food-safety savvy you are.

  • 1

    What is the best way to avoid food poisoning?

    3D render of microbes

    (a) use antibacterial soaps
    (b) buy only organic food
    (c) wash your hands with plain soap and water before and after handling food
    (d) eat only at home, not at restaurants

    Check the next slide to see if you answered correctly!

  • 2

    Answer: (c)

    washing soapy hands

    Frequent and thorough handwashing is the leading infection fighter. Plain soap will do—antibacterial products are not more effective and may contribute to drug-resistant bacteria. More people get food poisoning at home, though illness caused by restaurant meals is more likely to be reported.

  • 3

    Cooked foods should be refrigerated within:

    seafood plate

    (a) 30 minutes
    (b) 2 hours
    (c) 3 hours
    (d) 4 hours

    Check the next slide to see if you answered correctly!

  • 4

    Answer: (b)

    tight shot on clock

    If the weather is hot, reduce that to one hour. Remember to count the time it takes you to eat.

  • 5

    Which are potential sources of foodborne illness?

    raw meat and uncooked egg

    (a) raw eggs, poultry, beef, seafood
    (b) unwashed produce and raw sprouts
    (c) unpasteurized milk, apple juice and apple cider
    (d) all of the above

    Check the next slide to see if you answered correctly!

  • 6

    Answer: (d)

    produce on counter

    All of the above can harbor microbes. Besides cooking meat to proper temperature and eggs until not runny, wash all produce (including organic, which is also susceptible to microbes) with plain water. People with weakened immune systems, as well as the very old and very young, should not eat raw sprouts, which have been linked to illness caused by E. coli and Salmonella bacteria.

  • 7

    A hamburger is “done” if:

    grilled hamburgers

    (a) the inside is brown
    (b) it’s been cooked until pink and then allowed to continue cooking off the heat source
    (c) it has an internal temperature of 160°F

    Check the next slide to see if you answered correctly!

     

  • 8

    Answer: (c)

    meat thermometer

    Burgers that look brown in the center or have been taken off the grill early may not be cooked through. Ground beef that was frozen is most likely to look brown inside even when undercooked. Use a meat thermometer.

  • 9

    Which cutting board is safer?

    onions on wooden chopping block

    (a) plastic
    (b) wooden

    Check the next slide to see if you answered correctly!

  • 10

    Answer: (a) and (b)

    tomatoes on plastic cutting board

    Either is fine, as long as you scrub it with soap and water after cutting raw meat, poultry or fish on it. One advantage of plastic is that you can put it in the dishwasher. You may want to have different boards for raw meats and produce. Replace boards that have deep grooves or cracks.

  • 11

    The likely cause of illness from an egg salad sandwich?

    split egg salad sandwich

    (a) the bread
    (b) the eggs
    (c) the mayonnaise
    (d) the relish

    Check the next slide to see if you answered correctly!

  • 12

    Answer: (b)

    hardboiled eggs on cutting board

    Bacteria thrive on high-protein foods such as eggs, tuna and chicken—not in store-bought mayo. Homemade mayonnaise, made from raw eggs (and no preservatives), however, can cause salmonella poisoning.

  • 13

    True or False?

    assorted cheese and assorted dairy

    Hard cheese with some surface mold does not need to be tossed. Check the next slide to see if you answered correctly!

  • 14

    Answer: True

    assorted cheeses on a board

    Just cut off at least an inch beyond the mold. The same goes for hard fruits and vegetables, such as apples and potatoes. Soft fruits and cheeses with mold should be discarded.

  • 15

    True or False?

    roasted duck

    Cooked poultry with a pink tinge around the bones is safe to eat. Check the next slide to see if you answered correctly!

  • 16

    Answer: True

    whole roasted chickin on a platter

    If the internal temperature is 180°F. (170° for breasts). The pink is a harmless pigment from bone marrow, which can leach out during cooking—more likely if the poultry has been frozen and defrosted before cooking; it’s also more common in smaller birds (broilers and fryers). Use a meat thermometer. Juices that run clear also indicate that poultry is fully cooked.

  • 17

    True or False?

    lemon juice squeezed over raw chicken

    Raw meats can be marinated at room temperature, because the marinade kills bacteria. Check the next slide to see if you answered correctly!

  • 18

    Answer: False

    woman at fridge

    Marinate all meat, poultry and seafood in the refrigerator. Do not add leftover marinade to the cooked meat unless you boil it first. Transfer the meat and marinade to a clean platter, not back to the dish that held the raw meat.

  • 19

    True or False?

    meat in clear plastic packet

    It’s safe to refreeze thawed or partially thawed foods. Check the next slide to see if you answered correctly!

  • 20

    Answer: True

    fish fillet on ice

    True, as long as the food still has ice crystals or is below 40°F. Refreezing may, however, affect the food’s flavor and texture.

  • 21

    True or False?

    washed spinach in blue pail

    Packaged salad greens labeled “prewashed” or “triple washed” don’t need further washing. Check the next slide to see if you answered correctly!

  • 22

    Answer: True

    fresh greens in woven basket

    Greens and other vegetables washed at the processing plant and labeled as such are probably cleaner than home-washed greens can ever be (but you pay extra for the convenience). Other greens, not labeled as having been washed, including mesclun from bins, should be thoroughly washed.

  • 23

    True or False?

    woman smelling slalad

    The “sniff” test is a reliable way to tell if food is tainted with bacteria. Check the next slide to see if you answered correctly!

  • 24

    Answer: False

    inset, pasta and cooked half onion

    You usually can’t smell or taste the microbes that cause food poisoning. Still, if food does smell bad, throw it out.