How sharp are your food-safety skills? Check them against these guidelines provided by the Partnership for Food Safety Education, a coalition of private groups and public agencies. Answer each question true or false.
1. Before being cooked, chicken should be rinsed thoroughly under running water and patted dry.
FALSE: Rinsing poultry increases the risk that you'll splatter salmonella and other contaminants around, outweighing the benefits of washing. Your best bet is to cook it until the meat inside is 165 degrees as measured by a food thermometer.
2. The best way to make sure a hamburger's safe to eat is to cook it until the inside meat is brown.
FALSE: Cook ground meat just until a food thermometer says it's 160 degrees. This will also keep you from overcooking your food.
3. You should wash cantaloupes and other melons before cutting them.
TRUE -- and it's true for any vegetable with a skin or rind, whether you eat it or not. Your knife blade could carry pathogens into the part you eat.
4. If you eat something suspicious but haven't fallen ill after 48 hours, you're in the clear.
FALSE: Incubation periods for food-borne illnesses range from 12 hours to a week or more; listeria can take up to 70 days.
5. Cutting boards need to be sanitized in the dishwasher or with chlorine bleach.
TRUE: It's not necessary every day, but the board should be sanitized. Outside the dishwasher, use soap and hot water, then coat it with a solution of one tablespoon of unscented bleach to one gallon of water. Let it stand a few minutes, then rinse and dab dry with paper towel.
6. You can make sure sprouts aren't contaminated by rinsing them thoroughly.
FALSE: The seeds from which sprouts sprout are often contaminated
with E. coli or salmonella, and even thorough washing won't help. People with compromised immune systems in particular should avoid eating raw sprouts.
7. You shouldn't ever put hot food in the fridge.
FALSE: If you're not going to eat it right away, you should divide hot food into small portions in shallow containers and stick them in the fridge. Bacteria multiply at temperatures between 40 and about 140 degrees, and food left in that range for more than about two hours is no longer safe to eat.