Debunking the Top Food Safety Myths

By: Shamira Mostafa on June 6th, 2014

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Debunking the Top Food Safety Myths

Food Safety Fun  |  Bacteria

At Sample6,  we are commited to delivering the technology needed to make food safer at the plant level.  Along the way,  we've learned a lot about food safety in general.  There are many misconceptions in consumer use.  Some of the most common myths will surprise you.  

Here are the top food safety myths, debunked:

MYTH 1: An upset stomach is the worst outcome of foodborne illness. It is not really a big deal and after a few days, I'll feel better.

FACT: Some foodborne illnesses can actually lead to long-term health conditions, like kidney failure, chronic arthritis, brain and nerve damage as well as death.

IMPORTANT TO KNOW: Listeriosis is a foodborne illness caused by the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. Infection is caused by eating food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. Elderly, pregnant women, newborns, and people with a weakened immune system are at particular risk for listeriosis.

MYTH 2: It is okay to thaw meat on the counter. Since it starts out frozen, bacteria is not really a problem.

FACT: The counter is never a place you should thaw foods because bacteria grow rapidly at room temperatures. You should always thaw your food in the refrigerator. 

Thaw meatIMPORTANT TO KNOW: The danger zone for bacteria is anything between 40-140° F. Illness-causing bacteria can grow in perishable foods within two hours. Even in the presence of an acidic marinade, bacteria can grow rapidly at room temperatures. To marinate foods safely, it’s important to marinate them in the refrigerator.


MYTH 3: I don't need to wash fruits or vegatables if I'm going to peel them.        

FACT: It is important to wash all produce, even if you plan to peel them becasue bacteria from the peel or skin you are cutting can be easily transfarred to the inside of your fruits and veggies. 

MYTH 4: I clean my foods and kitchen counter very well so I'm safe.

FACT: Cleaning is not enough. Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill are four  basic but important principles to keep your food safe.

Clean, separate, cook, Chill

IMPORTANT TO KNOW: Even after you have cleaned your hands and surfaces thoroughly, cross contamination can still spread illness-causing bacteria to ready-to-eat foods. You should alwayskeep them separate. Use one cutting board for fresh produce and a separate one for raw meat, poultryand seafood.

MYTH 5: Meat is safe if it is brown inside, not pink.

FACT: Color is not a reliable indicator of whether food is thoroughly cooked. You can’t really tell whether meat is safely cooked by looking at it. Safely cooked meat can appear pink depending on various reasons like the meat being uncured red meat or certain kind of preservatives. On the other hand uncooked meat can turn brown before reaching a safe temperature if the meat was ground from an older animal, stored for a long time or exposed to much air. 


IMPORTANT TO KNOW: Only a thermometer can measure whether food is fully cooked. Poultry should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°, ground beef to 160°. Pork, seafood and medium-well cooked beef should have a temperature of 145°

MYTH 6: Food that drops on the floor is safe to eat if it is picked up within 3-5 seconds. 

FACT: Floors are often contaminated with harmful bacteria that will immediately attach to food. In a study, scientists at Clemson University (South Carolina) found that 99% of bacteria transfarred within the first 5 seconds of food-flooring contact.

IMPORTANT TO KNOW: Food that drops to the floor should not be eaten or mixed in with other foods to be eaten at a later time. Think twice about picking something up from the floor and popping it into your mouth. Even 5 seconds may be too much time!

MYTH 7: It is okay to eat moldy food once the moldy section is removed.

FACT: Moldy food should not be consumed. Visible mold is usually an indicator that the food is more thoroughly contaminated. Fungi, bacteria and toxins can be present in areas of the food that are not visible, so what looks like a small area of contamination could be much larger.


MYTH 8: You can’t detect pathogens without enrichment.

FACT: With Sample6 DETET/L, you can! Learn more about our AOAC approved Listeria assay.  

Together, we can make food safer.

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