Food Safety Myths
Using hand sanitiser is as effective as washing your hands
This is partially true. It is important to firstly note the difference between the two methods. Whilst hand washing involves the mechanical removal of microbes the hand sanitiser works at killing them. It is well known that many people do not wash their hands properly so the use of a hand sanitiser can actually be more effective in some circumstances, however where hands are soiled, the combination of hand washing using liquid soap and paper towel, followed by a hand sanitiser is the best solution.
Contaminated Food smells or Tastes "off”
If food looks, smells or tastes 'off' do not eat it as is may spoiled. However some of the most common food borne illness causing bacteria such as salmonella, listeria and E.Coli are not detectable to the human senses so remember to check printed 'use by' dates and ensure cooked food is consumed as soon as possible (48 hours is a guide), unless frozen.
Food can be safely defrosted on the bench
Food borne illness causing bacteria grow best at temperatures between 5 degrees C and 60 degrees C; also know as the temperature danger zone. With this in mind the safest way to defrost food is in the refrigerator. Where food needs to be thawed quickly, defrost in the microwave and cook immediately.
Food that has mould on it is ok to eat as long as the mouldy section is removed
Visible mould is an indicator food is thoroughly invaded by mould and should not be consumed. Whilst visible mould may only be present on certain parts of the food it is important to remember less mature mould spores that are undetectable to the human eye are likely to be present; even on portions of food which appear to be fresh and uncontaminated.
NOTE - this doesn’t apply to cheeses that use mould as part of their manufacturing process.
3 / 5 / 10 second rule
Despite being one of the most renowned, there is no truth to this food safety myth. This myth should be remembered as the 'zero second rule' as it takes less than 1 second for food to become contaminated when dropped onto the floor or another contaminated surface. Any food that has been in contact with a contaminated surface is likely to be contaminated with illness causing bacteria and must not be consumed.
No need to wash produce if I am peeling it
Fruit and vegetables contain dangerous chemicals and contaminants from the soil which can be transferred onto the internal layer of produce during the peeling process. It is therefore important to thoroughly wash produce before and after peeling to effectively remove any harmful contaminants.
Chicken is safe to eat if it is pink
The most effective way to ensure meat is thoroughly cooked is with a meat thermometer. Chicken should always be cooked to an internal temperature of 75 degrees C (the Kill Step).
Meat / Poultry should be washed before it is cooked
Whilst rinsing meat and poultry may seem like a good idea, the process of rinsing can actually cause cross contamination. When rinsing meat and poultry the blood, juices and pathogens from the meat surface are actually washed into the sink infecting the sink and quite possibly the surrounding food preparation area and nearby equipment. With risks of cross contamination in mind and the effectiveness of the cooking process in killing most food borne illness causing bacteria rinsing does not help prevent food borne illness.