Nutrition Action Healthletter
It must have been something I ate...

Quiz

Answer yes or no to each statement. (There’s no need to keep score, but if you find yourself missing more questions than you get right, you can forget about inviting us over for dinner.)
 

The Kitchen Sink

 1. I wash my hands with soap or dishwashing liquid both before and after I handle food.
answer

2. I have a separate sponge only for wiping up spills from raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs.
answer

3. I sometimes use my dish towel to wipe my hands while I’m cooking.
answer

4. Plastic cutting boards are less likely to spread bacteria than wooden cutting boards.
answer

5. I give my fresh produce a good, warm soak in the sink before I use it.
answer
 
The Big Chill

1. I keep a thermometer in my refrigerator and make sure that the temperature stays at 40°F or less.
answer

2. If refrigerated meat, fish, or poultry smells okay, it’s safe to eat.
answer

3. I give the inside of my refrigerator a thorough, warm soapy wash every month.
answer

4. I always defrost frozen meat, seafood, or poultry in the sink, so I can rinse the thawed juices right down the drain.
answer

5. If I’m using meat, poultry, or fish that has been frozen, I make sure to cook it the same day I defrost it.
answer
 
Grocery Know-How

1. I check “sell by” or “use by” dates on perishable foods before I buy them, and again before I use them.
answer

2. I make sure to use any cracked eggs before the others.
answer

3. I cook or freeze steaks and chops within three or four days of purchase, fish within 24 to 36 hours of purchase, and poultry or ground meat within one or two days of purchase.
answer

4. Dairy products need to be pasteurized, but fruit juices don’t.
answer

5. It’s okay to buy food in dented cans.
answer
 
Clean-Up

1. I wrap and refrigerate leftovers as soon as possible, and always within two hours.
answer

2. I eat, freeze, or toss leftovers within a week.
answer

3. I note the date and contents of leftovers on the container in which I store them.
answer

4. I clean my sponges at least once a week.
answer

5. After every meal that was prepared using raw meat, seafood, poultry, or eggs, I wash my counters and work surfaces with hot, soapy water.
answer
 
What's Cookin'?

1. I test to see whether poultry is done by piercing the skin of a leg or thigh. If the juices run pink, the bird needs more cooking. If the juices are clear, it’s done.
answer

2. Hamburgers and meat loaf are safe to eat if they’re not pink in the middle.
answer

3. When I serve cooked meat, eggs, seafood, or poultry, I use clean platters and utensils, not the ones I used when the food was raw or while it was cooking.
answer

4. It’s okay to baste meat, seafood, or poultry with its marinade as it’s cooking.
answer

5. It’s okay to let my kids eat cold hot dogs right out of the package.
answer
 

 
This quiz was devised by Diana Birkett and Mimi Harrison, with help from CSPI’s Lucy Alderton and Caroline Smith DeWaal, and Jack Guzewich of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Who's Most At Risk?
Name Your Poison
Hot Tips
Keeping Food Safe
 
 

About half of all food poisoning cases occur away from home—at restaurants, picnics, banquets, stadiums, your Aunt Betsy’s house. There’s only so much you can do about those. But there’s plenty you can do to protect yourself and your family at home.

   A little common sense, combined with a handful of easy-to-remember rules, can help keep you and your family out of the emergency room. This quiz will help you figure out how safe your kitchen is. It covers the five most important things you can do at the supermarket, the refrigerator, the sink, the stove, and the counter.
 

Who's Most At Risk?
 
While anyone could get food poisoning, some people are especially vulnerable:
 
  Those with HIV or an autoimmune disease like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Graves’ disease (a disease of the thyroid gland), and scleroderma (a disease of the skin) have a diminished ability to fight off infections. A bout of food poisoning that might cause mild or severe stomach distress in others could be fatal to them.
 
  The very young, the very old, and those recovering from illness have weaker immune systems than others, which makes them more susceptible to food poisoning. They’re also at greater risk from the dehydration that vomiting and diarrhea can cause.
 
  Pregnant women undergo changes in their immune systems that can leave them—and their fetuses—with a lessened ability to fight off infection.
 
  Alcoholics (active or recovered) may have liver damage or suffer from decreased liver function. Both impair the body’s ability to fend off infection.
 
  People who are taking antibiotics may have a temporarily weakened ability to deal with bacteria and other microorganisms.
 
  People who are taking prescription antacids produce less stomach acid, which is a natural defense against food hazards. That could put them at increased risk of food poisoning.
 
 Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and CSPI.
 
Name Your Poison
 
Some foods are more likely to contain dangerous bugs than others:
  Rare meats (especially ground beef or poultry).
  Raw eggs or foods made with raw eggs like Caesar dressing, desserts like custard and tiramisu, or homemade ice cream, mayonnaise, and eggnog.
  Raw shellfish.
  Soft cheeses like Mexican-style queso blanco, feta, Brie, Camembert, and blue-veined cheeses (bottled blue cheese dressings are fine).
  Sprouts.
  Unpasteurized milk, milk products, juice, or cider.
  Cold ready-to-eat seafood like smoked salmon, and cold ready-to-eat meats like hot dogs and cold cuts
 
 Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and CSPI.
 
Hot Tips
 
Heat kills. Cook your meat, poultry, eggs, and seafood until they reach these internal temperatures. Use a good, clean, instant-read thermometer and place its tip in the thickest part of the food. (Don’t forget to wash it each time before you insert it.)
 

Food
 
Temperature
Ground meat
   hamburger
   beef, pork, veal or lamb

160°F
160°F
Beef, veal, or lamb
(roasts or steaks)
   medium-rare
   medium
   well-done

145°F
160°F
170°F
Pork (chops, roasts, or ribs)
   medium
   well-done

160°F
170°F
Fresh ham or sausage
160°F
Poultry
   ground chicken or turkey
   chicken, whole or pieces
   duck
   turkey (unstuffed)
165°F
180°F
180°F

 
      whole turkey or dark meat
      breast meat
      stuffing (cooked separately)

180°F
170°F
165°F
Eggs
   fried or poacheduntil the yolk and white are firm
   sauces, custards, and casseroles 
      that contain eggs
160°F
Seafood
   whole fish and filletsuntil the flesh is opaque and flakes easily
   shrimp or lobsteruntil the shell turns red (lobster) or pink (shrimp) and the flesh is opaque
   scallopsuntil they turn milky white, opaque, and firm (but not rubbery)
 
Sources: USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service and FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.
 
Keeping Food Safe
 
If you have Internet access, the best source for information on safe food is www.foodsafety.gov. It has links to all of the U.S. government’s food safety Web sites. And check out the tips and other information on our Web site. You can also call the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Meat and Poultry Hotline at (800) 535-4555 or the Food and Drug Administration’s Food Information and Seafood Hotline at (800) 332-4010.

 

 

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