Thursday, September 17, 2009

Was it something you ate?

How many times have you heard "there's some kind of stomach bug going around"? And how do you know if it's a stomach bug or a food safety issue? Well, you don't always. BUT - if you do what you can to minimize food safety blunders and teach your kids (and adults) about basic hygiene, you are taking proper steps to keep the family healthy.

These days, families are doing what they can to save money, but really - eating unsafe food in the interest of not "wasting" is never a bargain. When in doubt...throw it out!

September is back to school month for many children, my own included. September is also National Food Safety Month and who doesn't love a quiz? Think you know all about food storage and safety? Take the quiz and refer to the answers below to see how well you did. Good luck!
1) True or False? Milk is safe to consume up to one week past the sell by date.

2) Apples will stay fresh in the refrigerator for:
a) 2 weeks
b) 10 days
c) 6 weeks
d) 3 months

3) The best place to store a banana is:
a) Refrigerator
b) Pantry
c) Countertop
d) Banana hook

4) Cooked food can be left at room temperature for:
a) 1 hour
b) 2 hours
c) 30 minutes
d) 3 hours

5) True or False? Peanut butter must be refrigerated after opening.

6) In general, leftovers should be eaten within:
a) 4 days
b) 1 week
c) 5 days
d) 2 days

7) Deli counter cold cuts should be used within:
a) 5 days
b) 14 days
c) 7 days
d) 10 days

8) True or False? If you find mold on your bread, it’s okay to cut it off and still eat the bread.

9) True or False? Once you slice fruit, it needs to be stored in the refrigerator.

10) The best place to store watermelon before eating is:
a) Refrigerator, whole
b) Countertop
c) Outdoors
d) Refrigerator after slicing.

11) The best place to thaw frozen meat is:
a) Refrigerator
b) Microwave
c) Countertop
d) Bowl of cold water

12) True or False? Eggs can be used up to 1 month past the sell by date.

13) True or False? It is okay to microwave leftovers in a take-out styrofoam container.

14) True or False? It’s okay to save a meat marinade (after the meat has soaked in it) and pour it over the cooked meat.

15) If you leave a restaurant with a doggie bag, it should be refrigerated within:
a) 1 hour
b) 2 hours
c) 3 hours
d) 30 minutes

16) True or False? You should let hot foods cool before putting them away in the refrigerator.

17) True or False? All fresh fruits and vegetables need to be scrubbed with soap.

18) True or False? After a 3 hour long power outage, you must throw away the contents of your refrigerator.

19) True or False? Refrigerated food from the supermarket needs to be transported home within one hour.

20) True or False? It’s okay to cover food with plastic wrap when microwaving.


1) True. Experts say milk is safe to drink up to one week past the "Sell by" date. However, some milk containers have a "use by" date rather than a "sell by" date. Always take note of that information and never rely on the "smell test" to determine milk's safety.

2) D. Apples will keep for 3 to 6 months in the refrigerator. Store them in the fruit compartment at low humidity.

3) A. The best place to store a banana is in the refrigerator AFTER it is ripe.

4) B. Cooked food can be left out at room temperature for up to 2 hours. After that, bacteria starts to grow rapidly. In warm weather (think picnics and barbecues), shorten that time limit to 1 hour.

5) False. In general, most peanut butters do not need to be refrigerated after opening. Check the label to be safe and take note of the expiration date.

6) A. Leftovers should be eaten within 4 days. If you don't think you will get around to eating them within that time, freeze immediately.

7) A. Toss after 5 days. Pre-packed cold cuts should be used within 10 days, provided they are sealed and stored properly.

8) False. If you find mold on your bread, toss it out. It's OK to slice mold off hard cheeses, cured meats, and firm fruits and vegetables. Anything else with moldy parts should be thrown away.

9) True. Once you slice fresh fruit, it needs to be refrigerated in a sealed container or bag. It should be used within 3 to 5 days.

10) This is sort of a trick question. The best place to store watermelon is whole, in a cool place away from direct sunlight. It will be good for up to 2 weeks. Watermelon contains lycopene, which is a powerful antioxidant. Storing watermelon in the fridge can lessen the amount of lycopene. If you love eating your watermelon chilled, slice it and place in the fridge for an hour before eating, for maximum lycopene benefits.

11) A. The best place to thaw frozen meat is in the refrigerator. A cold water bath would be 2nd choice, but change the cold water every 30 minutes. 3rd choice would be the microwave. Countertop defrosting is not recommended.

12) True. Eggs are usually safe to eat 4 to 5 weeks after purchase. As with milk, take note of whether your eggs have a "use by" date or a "sell by" date.

13) False. Styrofoam containers can leach chemicals or even melt into your food. Check the label on the container - a few are safe to microwave, but in general, it's best to transfer to a plate before re-heating.

14) False. Never use meat marinade to cover the cooked meat, unless you bring it to a complete boil first. You can also make some extra marinade before placing your meat into it and store that separately to use as a sauce on the finished product.

15) B. Restaurant leftovers should be placed in the fridge within 2 hours from the time the cooking is complete. Account for the time the food spends on your plate, transport time etc...if you lingered at the restaurant for an hour after your meal, that grace period is significantly reduced.

16) False. Hot foods do not need to cool before being stored in the fridge. While that method was commonly used years ago, modern day refrigerators are equipped to handle the introduction of a hot item without issue.

17) False. Rubbing fruits and veggies under running water with just your hands for 30 seconds is sufficient. You don't need to break out the scrub brushes and suds.

18) False. If you have an extended power outage, your refrigerator contents are safe (with the door shut) for 4 to 6 hours. Freezer contents are okay for 24 hours.

19) True. Purchases from the supermarket need to be refrigerated within 1 hour. 2 hours is the absolute maximum. If the weather is warm, you should transfer the foods ASAP. In warm weather, the temperature of your trunk can easily reach 100 plus degrees.

20) True. Check that the plastic wrap is microwave safe, however, try not to allow the plastic to touch your food.

These food facts, plus countless others can be found at:

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