5 COMMON FOOD MYTHS

The recent outbreak of listeriosis in southern Africa has made many people more aware of food safety. Here are some common myths about food that could make you sick.


The listeriosis outbreak was caused by contaminated polony and other processed meats, but there are many causes of food-related illness so it’s important to take steps to prevent disease and make sure your food doesn’t make you and your family sick. We all know the importance of washing our hands before preparing and eating food, but the way food is cooked and stored can also be a source of disease. Here are the facts about some common food myths:

MYTH 1: IF FOOD IS DROPPED, USE THE ‘FIVE-SECOND RULE’: IT’S FINE TO EAT IF IT’S BEEN ON THE FLOOR FOR FIVE SECONDS OR LESS.

FACT: Unfortunately, researchers at the University of London found that samples of pizza, apple and toast, dropped onto different surfaces, all picked up germs. They concluded that bacteria can attach to food as soon as it hits the floor. Even if you’re proud of your spotless kitchen floor, think about where your family’s shoes have been – school toilets, taxis or muddy water near the street drains!

MYTH 2: FOOD IN A FRIDGE CAN’T CONTAMINATE OTHER FOOD BECAUSE IT’S TOO COLD.

FACT: When harmful bacteria, for example from raw meat, are transferred from a surface like a chopping board onto food that is ready to eat such as salad, it is called cross-contamination. This can occur in your fridge because disease-causing bacteria aren’t destroyed by the cold – remember that nasty-smelling surprise when something was hidden and forgotten at the back of the fridge? Raw chicken, fish or meat might drip juices onto food below, so make sure you store cold meats and cheese above raw meat in the fridge to prevent cross-contamination.

MYTH 3: YOU DON’T NEED TO WASH FRUIT OR VEGETABLES IF YOU ARE GOING TO PEEL THEM.

FACT: When you cut fruit or vegetables, there could still be bacteria or parasites on the skin surface, which were present in the soil or water in which the plants were grown. These can then be transferred to the inside of the food by your knife or peeler. Make sure you get rid of any soil particles and wash fruit and vegetables well before eating.

MYTH 4: RINSING RAW MEAT BEFORE COOKING WILL PREVENT INFECTION WITH SALMONELLA.

FACT: Only cooking to high enough temperatures will kill bacteria. Rinsing can actually spread bacteria and contaminate other food through splashes on the sink and counters.

COMMON DISEASES CAUSED BY CONTAMINATED FOOD:

Listeriosis (caused by Listeria bacteria) Source: bacteria in the soil, processed meat/poultry, unpasteurised dairy products, soft cheeses, melons.

Salmonella food poisoning (caused by Salmonella bacteria) Source: raw or undercooked eggs/meat, unpasteurised milk.

Escherichia coli infection (commonly shortened to E.coli) Source: raw vegetables, undercooked beef mince.

Cysticercosis (infection after swallowing eggs of tapeworms) Source: parasites in undercooked pork, contaminated water and dirty hands. Lumps form under the skin and if the parasites move to the brain, the person might have seizures (fits).


Text Anne Hahn

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5 COMMON FOOD MYTHS 5 COMMON FOOD MYTHS Reviewed by Michelle Pienaar on July 06, 2018 Rating: 5

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