Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Chef Anissa: Food Safety Rules





There are certain food-safety rules that health experts and agencies, such as the USDA, repeat often.
I was in a meeting with food experts. One might argue that these statements are conservative, and 
we found that even some of our experts are a little relaxed about the rules. Take the survey yourself, 
then visit www.eatingwell.com/foodsafety to learn more. 

1. I use a "refrigerator thermometer" to keep my food stored at a safe temperature (below 40°F).

People I've poled: 37% agree. | Experts: 78% agree."Knowing the temperature of your refrigerator is critical to keeping food safe. The warmer foods are stored, the more quickly bacteria can grow." Catherine Donnelly

2. I defrost food in the refrigerator, the microwave or in cold water, never on the counter. People I've poled: 70% agree. | Experts: 56% agree. "Yes. When defrosting meat, poultry or seafood in the refrigerator it is important to make sure it is on a tray and cannot drip juices onto foods below as it defrosts." Donna Rosenbaum

3. I always use separate cutting boards for raw meat/poultry/fish and produce/cooked foods. People 
I've poled: 72% agree. | Experts: 56% agree. "No, but I will thoroughly clean and use the same cutting board for both raw and cooked products." Rich Vergili

4. I always cook meat to proper temperatures, using a calibrated instant-read thermometer to make 
sure. People I've poled: 42% agree. | Experts: 33% agree. "I love my burgers rare and my lamb and steak medium-rare. I will be struck by lightning or chomped by a Great White before under-cooked meats get me." Ming Tsai

In some cases, different Test Kitchens recommends cooking meats to temperatures that are lower than the USDA’s recommended safe minimums, but people at high risk for developing 
food-borne illness pregnant women, young children, older adults and people with weakened immune systems should follow the guidelines closely.

5. I avoid unpasteurized ("raw") milk and cheeses made from unpasteurized milk that are aged less 
than 60 days. People I've poled : 86% agree. | Experts: 71% agree. "Not worth the risk especially for pregnant women." Doug Powell

6. I never eat "runny" eggs or foods, such as cookie dough, that contain raw eggs. People 
I've poled: 47% agree. | Experts: 33% agree. "Don’t be silly. I’m human." Marion Nestle

Like Marion Nestle, many people consume under-cooked eggs. 

7. I always wash my hands in warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds before handling food and 
after touching raw meat, poultry or eggs. People I've poled: 81% agree. | Experts: 67% agree. "I must admit that at my home, I may not get through ‘Happy Birthday’ twice before working with some food items, but absolutely always after working with raw meats and poultry."  Linda Kender

8. I always heat leftover foods to 165oF. People 
I've poled: 50% agree. | Experts: 38% agree. "No. This is one of the most misunderstood recommendations. If you reheat a serving of prime rib to 165°F it would become like pot roast." Rich Vergili

So long as leftovers have been properly cooked and cooled, you can reheat them to any temperature 
just before serving.

9. I never eat meat, poultry, eggs or sliced fresh fruits and vegetables that have been left out for 
more than 2 hours (1 hour in temperatures hotter than 90°F). people I've poled: 64% agree. | Experts: 63% agree. "The rule in our house is ‘when in doubt, throw it out!’" Donna Rosenbaum

10. Whenever there’s a food recall, I check products stored at home to make sure they are safe. People 
I've poled: 82% agree. | Experts: 100% agree. "I just returned cookie dough to a retail outlet for a refund." Catherine Donnelly

Meet Our Expert Panel:

Catherine W. Donnelly, Ph.D., is a professor of nutrition and food sciences at the University of 
Vermont and an expert on listeria.

Scott Donnelly, Ph.D., is a microbiologist and independent food inspector based in Burlington, 
Vermont.


Linda Kender is an associate professor in the College of Culinary Arts at Johnson & Wales University.


Bill Marler, J.D., is an attorney and food-safety advocate.


Marion Nestle, Ph.D., M.P.H., one of EatingWell’s nutrition advisers, is a professor of nutrition, food 
studies and public health at New York University. Her most recent book is Pet Food Politics (2008).

Douglas Powell, Ph.D., is an associate professor of food safety at Kansas State University and founder 
of the hilarious barfblog.com.


Donna Rosenbaum is the executive director of Safe Tables Our Priority (S.T.O.P.).


Ming Tsai is chef-owner of the award-winning restaurant Blue Ginger in Wellesley, Massachusetts, and 

the host and executive producer of the cooking show Simply Ming.

Rich Vergili is professor of hospitality management at The Culinary Institute of America. He lectures on 

nutrition and food safety.

Written by Chef Anissa