Simply Safe Net
8th June 2016

Can You Tell Difference Between Food Safety Fact And Fiction?

In the food industry there are so many rules, regulations and good practices that after a while filtering out fact from fiction becomes a mine field in itself. STS iron out some popular food safety myths!

Manufacturers put on short use by dates in order to make more money by making us throw away perfectly good food. Some foods just passed their use by dates will be ok to eat.

False I’m afraid! Manufacturers apply the dates only after microbiological testing to determine an end of life date based on the intended use and correct storage conditions. The level of acceptable microbiological load is tested and a cut off point determined. Based on this information the date is applied.

Using hand sanitizer is as effective or better than washing your hands with soap and water.

Partially true. In normal day to day life, using alcohol-based hand sanitizer is very effective for disinfecting your hands, especially since many people do not wash their hands correctly. Hand sanitizer kills microbes, while hand washing is the mechanical removal of the microbes from your skin. However, if you’ve just worked with a lot of raw burgers or whole chickens, and you have a coating of fat or chicken juices over your skin, hand sanitizer won’t be effective. The best solution is a combination: wash your hands properly for at least 20 seconds, dry them thoroughly, and then sanitize.

Contaminated food smells or tastes funny or can look “off”.

If your food smells or tastes funny, or looks as if it is deteriorating, what you may be tasting or smelling are food spoilage micro-organisms. However, pathogenic bacteria such as E. coli, Listeria or Salmonella, Bacillus and Clostridia have no odour, taste or taint and can not be seen by the human eye without the use of a powerful microscope.

If you begin to feel sick, it must be the last thing you ate.

Actually, most people with a foodborne or food poisoning illness will not show symptoms anywhere from a few hours or in some cases for more than a week after eating a contaminated meal. It is easy to think it’s the last thing you ate but only in rare circumstances it may be (Staphylococcus aureus or Bacillus cereus can show symptoms after only an hour). Don’t forget some viral infections can be spontaneous and show exactly the same eruptive vomiting as some food poisoning bacteria. Remember that the most common cause of stomach upset and diarrhoea is Campylobacter, whose symptoms can take up to 11 days to develop!

If food has mould on it, it is still okay to eat as long as you cut the mould off.

False! Visible mould usually indicates the food product has been “invaded” by mould spores and should be thrown out. The mould spots that are visible to the naked eye are mature colonies of mould spores. The mould is not confined to these patches though. Invisible threads of immature mould extend away from the spores and into what may appear to be a fresh and uncontaminated portion of food. Consumption of mould contaminated foods should not harm healthy individuals but care should be taken for persons that have high sensitivity health issues. Consumption of mould contaminated foods is not recommended and is regarded as aesthetically repugnant except for foods intended to be mouldy (Stilton, Roquefort, Brie etc.)

If you drop food on the floor and pick it up within five seconds, it’s safe to eat.

Sadly false again! The “five-second rule,” or other timed variations, doesn’t prevent bacteria from getting on fallen food. If you can’t wash the food that has fallen on the floor, don’t eat it. Sometimes adults, often jokingly, say this myth in front of children. It’s important to teach children that the “five-second rule” isn’t true and that they shouldn’t eat food that has fallen on the floor!


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