IFT member Christine Bruhn, Director of the Center for Consumer Research at University of California-Davis, dispels some common myths about foodborne illness and gives tips on how to prevent it.

#1: The taste of food will tell you if it’s bad.
Myth:  Not true at all! Foods that are contaminated with lysteria, E. coli, salmonella, etc., can all taste great.

#2: Once a food is cooked, it’s safe to leave out for hours.
Myth: If you've cooked something and have leftovers, you've got two hours to get those leftovers in the refrigerator and get them cold in order to prevent the spread of bacteria. Thin-walled metal, glass or plastic containers that are shallow (no more than 2 inches deep) are ideal for storage. Bags, foil and plastic wrap also work well, especially if you have a piece of food that is large or oddly shaped.  

#3: You can tell by your eyes if something is adequately cooked.
Myth: Not so. You need to use a food thermometer.  Recent research from Kansas State showed that a quarter of the burgers turned brown before they reached the recommended 160 degrees Fahrenheit.  

#4: Foodborne illness can happen within a few hours.
Fact: The most common ones, such as staphylococcus or clostridium happen within a few minutes to a few hours, and you can feel really awful, but last for only about a day or so.  However if you have one of the more serious ones such as salmonella or certain strains of E. coli, it takes longer for illness to appear. Sometimes several days can go by. Illness from listeria can take two months before symptoms appear, and you get really sick.  Fortunately, most foodborne illnesses are not fatal.

#5: Preventing Foodborne Illness is Easy:
Fact: The most common way to avoid foodborne illness is by washing your hands.  In a study where people were videotaped in their own kitchen, only half of them washed their hands before starting to prepare food. 

Keep your kitchen spotlessly clean by washing the cooking area, the preparation area, knives, cutting boards, and utensils to avoid spreading bacteria throughout the kitchen.  In addition, the refrigerator should be cleaned because bacteria can grow, albeit slowly, in many environments including inside your refrigerator. 

More Food Facts

The Microbiome: You are What You Eat

The microbiome is the genetic material of all our microbes—bacteria, fungi, protozoa and viruses - that live on and inside the human body. Microbes outnumber our human cells ten to one.

Dinner Party Tips and Tricks – Powered by Science

Have you been looking for a way to up your dinner party game? IFT Food Facts compiled results from some recent peer-reviewed studies to help you do just that – by incorporating science into your meal.

The New Nutrition Label

The new Nutrition Facts Label is based on updated food consumption data, nutrient recommendations, the 2015 - 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and consumer behavior trends. These updates are reflected in the changes required in the label design, nutrient list, and serving size.

More from IFT right arrow

The power of private brands; Healthy foods have lower environmental impact

News about food science research, food companies, food regulations, and consumer/marketplace trends

Maintaining Healthy Microbiomes

Research on the gut microbiome is linking parts of the diet with healthy microbiomes and uncovering benefits of a healthy gut microbiome, including supporting mental health, cardiovascular health, weight management, and more.

Stress Soothers

A growing number of foods and beverages are being introduced that claim to help relieve stress or provide a sense of relaxation for those who need a break from stress.

Sensory evaluation of specialty oranges; Europe leads in organic launches

News about food science research, food companies, food regulations, and consumer/marketplace trends

The Dairy Chronicles

Dairy experts at the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Center for Dairy Research explain why cow’s milk is a near-perfect beverage and perhaps the most versatile ingredient.

IFTNEXT

Novel protein bar delivers alcohol-absorbing benefits

Just in time for the season of holiday happy hours, office parties, and festive family gatherings, a company called Zeno Functional Foods is introducing a protein bar formulated specifically to help promote sobriety by reducing alcohol absorption.

Extracts from coffee processing ‘waste’ may alleviate inflammation

Food science and human nutrition researchers at the University of Illinois are interested in the potential of inflammation-fighting compounds found in the silverskin and husk of coffee beans, not only for their benefits in alleviating chronic disease, but also in adding value to would-be “waste” products from the coffee processing industry.

Learning about human appetites from the common fruit fly

Insights into the diets of the tiny common fruit fly may help provide understandings into how humans evolved to eat what we eat, according to new research published in Cell Reports and a press release from Kyoto University.