In an article published Wednesday, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service asks and answers a series of “true or false” food safety questions. Each one describes a food preparation or storage technique and asks whether or not that step helps prevent foodborne illness.
“True or False: The ‘let stand’ step of microwave meal instructions is only there so I don’t burn myself,” asks FSIS.
The answer? False.
“Food continues to generate heat after the microwave is turned off,” explains the tip sheet. “That extra minute or two could mean the difference between a delicious meal and food poisoning.”
The fact that lunch boxes should contain a cold source, on the other hand, is true.
“Harmful bacteria multiply rapidly between 40 and 140 degrees F, so perishable food transported without an ice source will not stay safe long,” FSIS explains. At least two ice sources should accompany perishable foods in a lunchbox, the agency says. These can include frozen gel packs or even frozen juice boxes. Cold items should be placed above and below perishable food, and the lunchbox should be stored in a refrigerator if possible.
Other tips include:
– Discard foods containing meat that have been left out at room temperature for more than two hours, and
– Wash hands for 20 seconds before preparing food.
FSIS encourages families to go over these food safety tips together, and to make sure to adhere to the document’s recommendations in their daily routines.
“Preventing foodborne illness is part of USDA’s public health mission, but one in six Americans is still expected to get sick from the food they eat this year,” said Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elisabeth Hagen in a statement Wednesday. “Back to school time provides an excellent opportunity for the whole family to brush up on food safety steps.”
The questions in this article are based on real calls to USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline, according to the agency.
USDA encourages consumers to visit www.AskKaren.gov to find answers to over 1,300 food safety questions or chat live with a representative. The Meat and Poultry Hotline, available at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) is open Monday through Friday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. EST.© Food Safety News