Busting bad culinary habits

Urban legends are a funny thing. Often there’s some kernel of truth in the situation but far from the whole truth. Not knowing how to properly clean your kitchen or your food is a recipe that breeds illness. And while we’re 100 percent behind learning from mistakes, no one should be sick because of them!

This month is National Food Safety Education Month! We’re going to celebrate by busting some common kitchen myths thanks to fightbac.org, a website by Partnership for Food Safety Education.

Myth: I don’t need to wash my produce if I’m going to peel it.

False. All fruits and veggies should be run under water before eating, cutting or cooking. That may sound strange but the reality is, you can transfer bacteria from a peel to the part you, or your little one, eat. Be sure to wash under cool, running water. Blot delicate produce, like lettuce or grapes, with a clean cloth or paper towel. Firm-skin fruits and veggies should be washed in running tap water or scrubbed with a clean produce brush. Never, ever, use detergent, bleach or soap! Think about it, would you want a soapy taste to dinner? Plus, those cleaning tools weren’t made for eating.

Myth: The stand time recommended for microwave food is optional; It’s just a guide so you won’t burn yourself.

False. Actually, stand time is a cooling off period that is rather important. Be patient. Normally it’s only a couple minutes anyway. But waiting will do more than save your tongue from being burned. It also keeps the food at a safe temperature. Read and follow directions closely, know how strong your microwave is and use a food thermometer to be sure the food is safe for you and your little ones to eat.

Myth: Leftovers are safe to eat until they smell bad.

False. Clearly, you should not be eating smelly food. If you can tell something’s not right, it isn’t. Unfortunately, food is often bad long before it smells. Different types of bacteria affect food differently. The type that makes you sick doesn’t result in the smells that you may rely on when deciding to serve a dish. Rather than question it, freeze or trash leftovers within 3 to 4 days. Never risk it, if you don’t know how old the food is, throw it away! Also, get better at labeling to avoid the questions in the future.

Myth: I use bleach and water to clean my countertops and the more bleach I use the more bacteria I kill.

False. More bleach does not make for a cleaner kitchen. Using too much bleach can actually be a bad thing. The cleaning agent is a chemical and truly not meant for anyone to eat. It always comes back to following directions. Use 1 tablespoon of unscented liquid bleach per gallon of water. Flood the countertop with the solution, allow it to sit for a few minutes, then pay it dry or let it air dry. Anything left over can be stored, tightly covered for about a week. After that, the bleach won’t be effective.

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