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FOOD SAFETY GONE WRONG

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

If you’re super conscious about food safety, you probably take every precaution and follow many rules. However, you may still be making mistakes. Anindra Siqueira brings you five common food misconceptions

Do you take cleaning your fruits and vegetables too seriously, perhaps washing each grape individually... with a special grape-washing tooth brush? While cleaning your cutting board each time you chop something up is a good habit, there’s no need to be an Adrian Monk of food. And, when it comes to diet-related matters, there’s no end to the debate on what is and what might be bad for you. So, here are five misconceptions that people have about food, and the truth to them.

Food that has past its “best by” date should be discarded
This is one belief that food companies prey on. While they aren’t actually lying, they are not doing anything to dispel this false belief either. Not all foods that have passed their “best by” date are unsafe to eat. In fact, these dates are chosen by companies’ food scientists, and not by health professionals. Companies want their food to look and taste the best. These dates aren’t really indicative of when the food is unfit for consumption, but rather when it starts to deteriorate in appearance and taste. Most foods are perfectly safe to consume a little while after their “best by” dates.

Washing meat and poultry keeps your kitchen safe
It’s a good habit to wash vegetables and fruits before you eat them, so by extension you may think that washing uncooked meat will make it safe to eat and ensure that your kitchen is clean. Sadly, this is completely wrong, and it’s not hard to see why. Rinsing meat, poultry or seafood with water can increase your chance of food poisoning because the liquid and water that splashes when washing meat might contain harmful bacteria and contaminate your sink and kitchen counter. The best way to make sure that chicken and meat is safe to eat is to cook it at the right temperature.

Food handlers wearing gloves reduces the chances of contamination
If a fast food chain has its workers wearing gloves, their food is safer to eat, right? Not quite. The truth is that gloves are only as effective at cutting out cross contamination as the food safety habits of those using them. Chefs have reported food handlers wearing gloves causing cross contamination because of poor food safety practices. Also, most times they give people a false sense of security. They may be helpful if the handler has a cut on their hands, but in general they don’t offer much more protection from food-borne illnesses.

Vegetables and fruits are the safest fresh foods at the supermarket
The sight of raw meat can make you nauseous, while fresh produce may look appealing and inviting. However, the fact is that meats are generally cooked thoroughly before eating, so they pose less of a health risk. On the other hand, vegetables and fruits are often eaten raw and people don’t wash produce properly. This, according to experts, makes produce more dangerous, especially if it isn’t handled or stored properly by supermarket workers. If you’re eating raw produce, it’s best to wash it as thoroughly as possible.

Microwaving” food destroys all bacteria
Microwave ovens are among the most misunderstood kitchen appliances. Some refuse to use them because they believe that their food will be contaminated with radiation, while others believe that microwave energy will modify or mutate their food. While both these are wrong, some people on the other side of the debate believe that a microwave will kill all bacteria, irrespective of the temperature at which you cook food. This assumption is equally wrong. The microwave oven merely heats up your food; it is the heat that actually kills bacteria and cooks food. So, make sure to cook food at the right temperature and for the correct duration in a microwave oven.

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