Refrigerators should stay at 41 F (5 C) or less, so if you
give yourself two points
. If you
didn't, you're not alone. According to Robert Buchanan, Ph.D., food
safety initiative lead scientist in the Food and Drug
Administration's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, many
people overlook the importance of maintaining an appropriate
refrigerator temperature. "According to surveys, in many
households, the refrigerator temperature is above 50 degrees (10
C)," he said. His advice: Measure the temperature with a
thermometer and, if needed, adjust the refrigerator's temperature
control dial. A temperature of 41 F (5 C) or less is important
because it slows the growth of most bacteria. The temperature won't
kill the bacteria, but it will keep them from multiplying, and the
fewer there are, the less likely you are to get sick from them.
Freezing at zero F (minus 18 C) or less stops bacterial growth
(although it won't kill all bacteria already present).
Answer Bis the best practice; give yourself two
points if you picked it.
Hot foods should be refrigerated as
soon as possible within two hours after cooking. But don't keep the
food if it's been standing out for more than two hours. Don't taste
test it, either. Even a small amount of contaminated food can cause
illness. Date leftovers so they can be used within a safe time.
Generally, they remain safe when refrigerated for three to five
days. If in doubt, throw it out, said FDA microbiologist Kelly
Bunning, Ph.D., also with FDA's food safety initiative. "It's not
worth a food-borne illness for the small amount of food usually
If answer A best describes your household's practice, give
yourself two points.
Give yourself one point if you chose B.
According to FDA's John Guzewich epidemiologist on FDA's food
safety initiative team, the kitchen sink drain, disposal and
connecting pipe are often overlooked, but they should be sanitized
periodically by pouring down the sink a solution of 1 teaspoon (5
milliliters) of chlorine bleach in 1 quart (about 1 liter) of water
or a solution of commercial kitchen cleaning agent made according
to product directions. Food particles get trapped in the drain and
disposal and, along with the moistness, create an ideal environment
for bacterial growth.
If answer D best describes your household's practice, give
yourself two points.
If you picked A, you're violating an
important food safety rule: Never allow raw meat, poultry and fish
to come in contact with other foods. Answer B isn't good, either.
Improper washing, such as with a damp cloth, will not remove
bacteria. And washing only with soap and water may not do the job,
Give yourself two points if you picked answer C.
you don't have a meat thermometer, there are other ways to
determine whether seafood is done: For fish, slip the point of a
sharp knife into the flesh and pull aside. The edges should be
opaque and the center slightly translucent with flakes beginning to
separate. Let the fish stand three to four minutes to finish
cooking. For shrimp, lobster and scallops, check color. Shrimp and
lobster and scallops, red and the flesh becomes pearly opaque.
Scallops turn milky white or opaque and firm. For clams, mussels
and oysters, watch for the point at which their shells open. Boil
three to five minutes longer. Throw out those that stay closed.
When using the microwave, rotate the dish several times to ensure
even cooking. Follow recommended standing times. After the standing
time is completed, check the seafood in several spots with a meat
thermometer to be sure the product has reached the proper
If you answered A, you may be putting yourself at risk for
infection with Salmonella enteritidis, a bacterium that can be in
Cooking the egg or egg-containing food product to
an internal temperature of at least 145 F (63 C) kills the
bacteria. So answer C-eating the baked product-will earn you two
points. You'll get two points for answer B, also. Foods containing
raw eggs, such as homemade ice cream, cake batter, mayonnaise, and
eggnog, carry a Salmonella risk, but their commercial counterparts
don't. Commercial products are made with pasteurized eggs-that is,
eggs that have been heated sufficiently to kill bacteria, and also
may contain an acidifying agent that kills the bacteria. Commercial
preparations of cookie dough are not a food hazard. If you want to
sample homemade dough or batter or eat other foods with
raw-egg-containing products, consider substituting pasteurized eggs
for raw eggs. Pasteurized eggs are usually sold in the grocer's
refrigerated dairy case. Some other tips to ensure egg safety: Buy
only refrigerated eggs, and keep them refrigerated until you are
ready to cook and serve them. Cook eggs thoroughly until both the
yolk and white are firm, not runny, and scramble until there is no
visible liquid egg. Cook pasta dishes and stuffings that contain
Answers C or D will earn you two points each; answer B,
According to FDA's Guzewich, bleach and commercial
kitchen cleaning agents are the best sanitizers--provided they're
diluted according to product directions. They're the most effective
at getting rid of bacteria. Hot water and soap does a good job,
too, but may not kill all strains of bacteria. Water may get rid of
visible dirt, but not bacteria. Also, be sure to keep dishcloths
and sponges clean because, when wet, these materials harbor
bacteria and may promote their growth.
Answers A and C are worth two points each.
potential problems with B and D. When you let dishes sit in water
for a long time, it "creates a soup," FDA's Buchanan said. "The
food left on the dish contributes nutrients for bacteria, so the
bacteria will multiply." When washing dishes by hand, he said, it's
best to wash them all within two hours. Also, it's best to air-dry
them so you don't handle them while they're wet.
The only correct practice is answer C.
two points if you picked it. Wash hands with warm water and soap
for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food, especially
raw meat, poultry and fish. If you have an infection or cut on your
hands, wear rubber or plastic gloves. Wash gloved hands just as
often as bare hands because the gloves can pick up bacteria.
(However, when washing gloved hands, you don't need to take off
your gloves and wash your bare hands, too.)
Give yourself two points if you picked B or C.
safety experts recommend thawing foods in the refrigerator or the
microwave oven or putting the package in a water-tight plastic bag
submerged in cold water and changing the water every 30 minutes.
Gradual defrosting overnight is best because it helps maintain
quality. When microwaving, follow package directions. Leave about 2
inches (about 5 centimeters) between the food and the inside
surface of the microwave to allow heat to circulate. Smaller items
will defrost more evenly than larger pieces of food. Foods
defrosted in the microwave oven should be cooked immediately after
thawing. Do not thaw meat, poultry and fish products on the counter
or in the sink without cold water; bacteria can multiply rapidly at
room temperature. Marinate food in the refrigerator, not on the
counter. Discard the marinade after use because it contains raw
juices, which may harbor bacteria. If you want to use the marinade
as a dip or sauce, reserve a portion before adding raw food.
A and B are correct.Give yourself two points for
When buying fresh seafood, buy only from reputable
dealers who keep their products refrigerated or properly iced. Be
wary, for example, of vendors selling fish out of their creel
(canvas bag) or out of the back of their truck. Once you buy the
seafood, immediately put it on ice, in the refrigerator or in the
freezer. Some other tips for choosing safe seafood: Don't buy
cooked seafood, such as shrimp, crabs or smoked fish, if displayed
in the same case as raw fish. Cross-contamination can occur. Or, at
least, make sure the raw fish is on a level lower than the cooked
fish so that the raw fish juices don't flow onto the cooked items
and contaminate them. Don't buy frozen seafood if the packages are
open, torn or crushed on the edges. Avoid packages that are above
the frost line in the store's freezer. If the package cover is
transparent, look for signs of frost or ice crystals. This could
mean that the fish has either been stored for a long time or thawed
and refrozen. Recreational fishers who plan to eat their catch
should follow state and local government advisories about fishing
areas and eating fish from certain areas. As with meat and poultry,
if seafood will be used within two days after purchase, store it in
the coldest part of the refrigerator, usually under the freezer
compartment or in a special "meat keeper." Avoid packing it in
tightly with other items; allow air to circulate freely around the
package. Otherwise, wrap the food tightly in moisture-proof freezer
paper or foil to protect it from air leaks and store in the
freezer. Discard shellfish, such as lobsters, crabs, oysters, clams
and mussels, if they die during storage or if their shells crack or
break. Live shellfish close up whe the shell is tapped.
If you are under treatment for any of these diseases, as
well as several others, you should avoid raw seafood.
yourself two points for knowing one or more of the risky
conditions. People with certain diseases and conditions need to be
especially careful because their diseases or the medicine they take
may put them at risk for serious illness or death from contaminated
seafood. These conditions include: liver disease, either from
excessive alcohol use, viral hepatitis, or other causes
hemochromatosis, an iron disorder diabetes stomach problems,
including previous stomach surgery and low stomach acid (for
example, from antacid use) cancer immune disorders, including HIV
infection long-term steroid use, as for asthma and arthritis Older
adults also may be at increased risk because they more often have
these conditions. People with these diseases or conditions should
never eat raw seafood-only seafood that has been thoroughly