Can Your Kitchen Pass the Food Safety Test? (cont.)
2. Answer B: "put in the refrigerator immediately after the food was served"
is the best practice; give yourself
two points if you picked it.
Hot foods should be refrigerated as soon as possible within two hours after cooking. But don't keep the food if it's been standing out for more than two hours. Don't taste test it, either. Even a small amount of contaminated food can cause illness.
Date leftovers so they can be used within a safe time. Generally, they remain safe when refrigerated for three to five days. If in doubt, throw it out, says FDA microbiologist Kelly Bunning, Ph.D., associate senior science adviser in CFSAN: "It's not worth a foodborne illness for the small amount of food usually involved."
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3. Answer A: last night. If this best describes your household's
practice, give yourself two points. Give yourself one point if you chose B
According to John Guzewich, CFSAN's director of emergency coordination and response, the kitchen sink drain, disposal and connecting pipe are often overlooked, but they should be sanitized periodically by pouring down the sink a solution of 1 teaspoon (5 milliliters) of chlorine bleach in 1 quart (about 1 liter) of water or a solution of commercial kitchen cleaning agent made according to product directions. Food particles get trapped in the drain and disposal and, along with the moistness, create an ideal environment for bacterial growth.
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4. Answer D: wash the cutting board with soap and hot water
and then santize. Give yourself 2 points if you answered correctly.
If you picked A, you're violating an important food safety rule: Never allow raw meat, poultry and fish to come in contact with other foods. Answer B isn't good, either. Improper washing, such as with a damp cloth, will not remove bacteria. And washing only with soap and water may not do the job, either.
To prevent cross-contamination from a cutting board, the FDA advises consumers to follow these practices:
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- Use smooth cutting boards made of hard maple or a non-porous material such as plastic and free of cracks and crevices. These kinds of boards can be cleaned easily. Avoid boards made of soft, porous materials.
- Wash cutting boards with hot water, soap, and a scrub brush to remove food particles. Then sanitize the boards by putting them through the automatic dishwasher or rinsing them in a solution of 1 teaspoon (5 milliliters) of chlorine bleach in 1 quart (about 1 liter) of water.
- Always wash and sanitize cutting boards after using them for raw foods and before using them for ready-to-eat foods. Consider using one cutting board only for foods that will be cooked, such as raw fish, and another only for ready-to-eat foods, such as bread, fresh fruit, and cooked fish. Disposable cutting boards are a newer option, and can be found in grocery and discount chain stores.
5. Answer B or C
Give yourself two points if you got this one correct.
Ground beef must be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit (71 degrees Celsius). Using a digital or dial food thermometer is crucial, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says, because research results indicate that some ground meat may prematurely brown before a safe internal temperature has been reached. On the other hand, research findings also show that some ground meat patties cooked to 160 F or above may remain pink inside for a number of reasons; thus the color of meat alone is not considered a reliable indicator of ground beef safety. If eating out, order your ground beef to be cooked well-done. Temperatures for other foods to reach to be safe include:
- beef, lamb and veal--145 F (63 C)
- pork and ground beef--160 F (71 C)
- whole poultry and thighs--180 F (82 C)
- poultry breasts--170 F (77 C)
- ground chicken or ground turkey--165 F (74 C).
Seafood should be thoroughly cooked to an internal temperature of at least 145 F (63 C). Fish that's ground or flaked, such as a fish cake, should be cooked to at least 155 F (68 C), and stuffed fish to at least 165 F (74 C).
If you don't have a meat thermometer, there are other ways to determine whether seafood is done:
- For fish, slip the point of a sharp knife into
the flesh and pull aside. The edges should be opaque and the center slightly
translucent with flakes beginning to separate. Let the fish stand three to
four minutes to finish cooking.
- For shrimp, lobster and scallops, check color.
Shrimp and lobster and scallops, red and the flesh becomes pearly opaque.
Scallops turn milky white or opaque and firm.
- For clams, mussels and oysters, watch for the
point at which their shells open. Boil three to five minutes longer. Throw
out those that stay closed.
When using the microwave, rotate the dish
several times to ensure even cooking. Follow recommended standing times.
After the standing time is completed, check the seafood in several spots
with a meat thermometer to be sure the product has reached the proper
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6. Answer C or D.
If you answered A or B, you may be putting yourself at risk for infection with Salmonella Enteritidis, a bacterium that can be inside shell eggs. Cooking the egg or egg-containing food product to an internal temperature of at least 160 F (71 C) kills the bacteria. Refrigerating will not kill the bacteria. So answer D--eating the baked product--will earn you two points.
Other foods containing raw eggs, such as homemade ice cream, cake batter, mayonnaise, and eggnog, carry a Salmonella risk too. Their commercial counterparts are usually made with pasteurized eggs; that is, eggs that have been heated sufficiently to kill bacteria, and also may contain an acidifying agent that kills the bacteria. But the best practice, even when using products containing pasteurized eggs, is to eat the foods only as they are intended to be eaten, so answer C, sampling the unbaked store-bought cookie dough, will not earn you any points.