Every time we hear about food poisoning, our minds fill up with the many myths spread by people who don't know any better. Unfortunately, many Americans do not follow safe food handling practices, becoming victims of food poisoning.

Knowing too much wrong information about a condition is just as bad as knowing too little about a disease. That's why we took it upon ourselves to debunk these 9 food poisoning myths.

Your last meal made you sick

Many people are quick to assume that their last meal is the reason they have food poisoning. This is not always true. Bacteria take much longer to multiply and show their effects on your body.

So, your lunch may not have caused food poisoning. It could be the sushi you had for dinner or the homemade meal from a day ago. It all comes down to which food was contaminated with bacteria.

Food poisoning is always due to restaurant food

We're all very confident about hygiene practices in our homes. But bacteria can grow anywhere. They may even be present in the food you cook at home.

Maybe you did not wash your utensils properly. Or, you defrosted the chicken on the work surface, and that made way for bacterial growth.

You can chew your food to tell if it was cooked properly

You cannot taste chicken to tell if it has been cooked thoroughly. Similarly, if the juices run clear, this does not always mean the food is cooked to perfection. The right way to check the internal temperature of food is by using a thermometer.

Only temperature can tell you if the food is cooked properly on the inside.

Vegetarians are at low risk of food poisoning

Vegetables and fruits are just as likely to cause food poisoning as red meats or mince. Even cooked rice can lead to food poisoning if exposed to bacteria. Your chances of getting food positioning depend less on your dietary preferences and more on the cooking technique and hygiene.

Mayonnaise causes food poisoning

In the condiment rivalry, people often come for mayonnaise, blaming it for food poisoning. The truth, however, is that mayonnaise does not lead to food poisoning. It's the bacteria growing in or on the food that causes stomach problems.

Commercially-made mayonnaise is safe to eat. It only becomes a health hazard if you mix it with certain foods, such as chicken, tuna, potatoes, pasta, etc. If you keep your food in a cooler at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or less, it will prevent food poisoning.

Washing your hands before eating will keep you safe

Washing your hands before eating is a good practice. But it does not keep you safe from food poisoning. What if the person preparing the food did not wash their hands? What if the raw ingredients already had bacterial growth on them due to mishandling?

You need to wash your hands when preparing your food, after using the bathroom, before eating, and after handling pets. You should also wash your fresh produce, such as vegetables and fruits, to lower the risk of bacterial growth.

Spoiled food smells and looks rotten

While that's true, you can't always say that fresh-looking food is not spoiled. Bacteria are not visible to our eyes, so there's no way to tell if they have started growing in the food. You may get food poisoning from eating food that looks fresh.

You should cover your food and keep it at an appropriate temperature even if it is freshly prepared.

Plastic chopping boards are more hygienic

People often compare the safeness of plastic and wooden chopping boards, saying one is better than the other. But there is no scientific evidence for this.

What's important is that you wash your board after every use. Don't use the same board for cooked and raw foods since cross-contamination can occur. Cross-contamination refers to the transfer of bacteria from one food item, primarily undercooked or raw, to another, mostly cooked.

Food poisoning is just a minor stomach issue

In most cases, food poisoning lasts for just a few days with minor symptoms. But it can have a worse effect on your body too. According to the CDC, 48 million get sick due to food-borne diseases every year in the United States.

More than 128,000 of them have to spend a night or more at the hospital, while 3,000 die.

Now that you are aware of the false information around food poisoning, you can educate others and stay safe yourself.

QUESTION

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Medically Reviewed on 11/17/2021
References
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Estimates of Foodborne Illness in the United States," "Four Steps to Food Safety."

Epidemiology & Infections: "Incubation periods of enteric illnesses in foodborne outbreaks, United States, 1998–2013," "Outbreaks attributed to fresh leafy vegetables, United States, 1973–2012."

Indian Journal of Medical Research: "Hand hygiene: Back to the basics of infection control." International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health: "Food Safety in Home Kitchens: A Synthesis of the Literature."

Journal of Food Protection: "Microbiological safety of mayonnaise, salad dressings, and sauces produced in the United States: a review."