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September is national month for food safety

Keeping in mind that September is National Food Safety Education month, let’s test your food safety IQ! Think you know about food safety? Participants in a recent study earned high marks on a food safety quiz, yet neglected to use the food safety steps in their kitchens.

They are not alone. Common food safety mistakes stem from concepts learned in kindergarten or before - they are easy to do, but often are overlooked.

Thousands of people die each year from food borne illness that could have easily been prevented. Test yourself with this do-it-yourself quiz to test your food safety savvy:

True or False:
Cooked foods left sitting on a counter for two hours can be refrigerated and later reheated for another meal.
— True, but only if the food has been sitting on the kitchen table or counter and has not been exposed to heat, high humidity or direct sunlight. Food left at a picnic or tailgate party should be placed out of direct sunlight; kept covered; and discarded after an hour if the temperature is more than 70 degrees F. Before serving, reheat leftovers until they are piping hot.

True or False:
A refrigerator should be 40 F inside.
— True. To keep bacteria in check, a refrigerator should be 40 F; a freezer should be kept at 0 degrees F. Monitor temperatures with inexpensive thermometers available at hardware, discount department and kitchen stores, and some supermarkets.

True or False:
Raw meat or poultry leaks onto other foods in the refrigerator, including grapes in a bowl below.
The grapes may be contaminated.
— True: Foods can become contaminated in the refrigerator. To prevent contamination from drippings, meats, poultry, fish, and other foods that may leak, the foods should be placed in a leak-proof container on a lower shelf.
For example, wrap chicken breasts in a re-sealable bag and place the bag in a pie plate on the lowest shelf.

True or False:
An acrylic cutting board is preferable to wood.
— True: Newer acrylic cutting boards can be sanitized easily in the dishwasher. Both acrylic and wood boards can get cuts and grooves from use that make them harder to clean. Sanitize a cutting board between each use to reduce risks from cross contamination, one of the most common - and most deadly - food safety mistakes.
Cross contamination can occur when two foods come into contact with each other; when a knife used to cut meat also is used to chop raw vegetables before it has been washed and sanitized or when food is touched with unclean hands.

True or False:
When a hamburger turns brown, it’s done.
— False. Researchers at Kansas State University have determined that some ground beef browns before it has reached the safe temperature of 155 F. Using a meat thermometer is the only sure way to tell if a hamburger is cooked completely. A meat thermometer is not the same as a medical thermometer. Inexpensive disposable thermometers can be purchased for a dollar or less.
Reusable thermometers can be purchased for $10 or less at hardware, discount department and kitchen specialty shops, and in many supermarkets. Using a thermometer can substantially reduce food safety risks.

True or False:
Neglecting to wash your hands each time food is handled and before and after eating is one of the most frequent food safety mistakes.
— True. It’s also one of the easiest to correct. Lather for 20 seconds, rinse in warm water.
Whether you answered these questions right or wrong isn’t as important as the last question: Have you practiced good food safety habits today? Doing so can save your life.

For more information on food safety and health, contact the McPherson K-State
Research and Extension office or website at