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Delaware Health and Social Services

DHSS Press Release

Date: September 21, 2015
DHSS-9-2015

Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Cell 302-357-7498
Email: jill.fredel@state.de.us


PUBLIC HEALTH DEBUNKS THE 'FIVE-SECOND RULE' AND OTHER MYTHS FOR FOOD SAFETY MONTH


DOVER, DE (Sept. 21, 2015) - One of the most common food safety myths is if you drop food on the floor and pick it up within five seconds, it's safe to eat. Fact: the "five-second rule," or other timed variations, doesn't prevent bacteria and other germs from getting on fallen food. If you can't wash the food that has fallen on the floor, don't eat it.

The Division of Public Health's (DPH) Office of Food Protection would like to highlight other food myths and facts in observance of September as National Food Safety Month. National Food Safety Month was created in 1994 to heighten the awareness about the importance of food safety education.

How high is your food IQ? Read the following to see if you know the answers:

Common myths about food safety at home: *Source: foodsafety.gov/keep/basics/myths/#

Myth #1: Food poisoning isn't that big of a deal. I just have to tough it out for a day or two and then it's over.
Fact: Many people don't know it, but some foodborne illnesses can actually lead to long-term health conditions, and 3,000 Americans a year die from foodborne illness.

Myth #2: It's OK to thaw meat on the counter. Since it starts out frozen, bacteria isn't really a problem.
Fact: Actually, bacteria grow surprisingly quickly at room temperatures, so the counter is never a place you should thaw foods. Instead, thaw foods the right way. Take food out of the freezer and place it on a plate or pan that can catch any juices that may leak and place it in the refrigerator. Normally, it should be ready to use the next day. For faster thawing, you can put the frozen package in a watertight plastic bag and submerge it in cold water. Learn more at foodsafety.gov/keep/basics/chill/index.html.

Myth #3: When cleaning my kitchen, the more bleach I use, the better. More bleach kills more bacteria, so it's safer for my family.
Fact: There is actually no advantage to using more bleach than needed. To clean kitchen surfaces effectively, use just one teaspoon of liquid, unscented bleach to one quart of water.

Myth #4: I don't need to wash fruits or vegetables if I'm going to peel them.
Fact: Because it's easy to transfer bacteria from the peel or rind you're cutting to the inside of your fruits and veggies, it's important to wash all produce, even if you plan to peel it.

Myth #5: To get rid of any bacteria on my meat, poultry, or seafood, I should rinse off the juices with water first.
Fact: Actually, rinsing meat, poultry, or seafood with water can increase your chance of food poisoning by splashing juices (and any bacteria they might contain) onto your sink and counters. The best way to cook meat, poultry, or seafood safely is to make sure you cook it to the right temperature.

Myth #6: The only reason to let food sit after it's been microwaved is to make sure you don't burn yourself on food that's too hot.
Fact: In fact, letting microwaved food sit for a few minutes ("standing time") helps your food cook more completely by allowing colder areas of food time to absorb heat from hotter areas of food.

Myth #7: Leftovers are safe to eat until they smell bad.
Fact: The kinds of bacteria that cause food poisoning do not affect the look, smell, or taste of food. To be safe, use our Safe Storage Times chart to make sure you know the right time to throw food out.

Myth #8: Once food has been cooked, all the bacteria have been killed, so I don't need to worry once it's "done."
Fact: Actually, the possibility of bacterial growth actually increases after cooking, because the drop in temperature allows bacteria to thrive. This is why keeping cooked food warmed to the right temperature is critical for food safety.

Myth #9: Marinades are acidic, which kills bacteria-so it's OK to marinate foods on the counter.
Fact: Even in the presence of acidic marinade, bacteria can grow very rapidly at room temperatures. To marinate foods safely, it's important to marinate them in the refrigerator.

Myth #10: If I really want my produce to be safe, I should wash fruits and veggies with soap or detergent before I use them.
Fact: In fact, it's best not to use soaps or detergents on produce, since these products can linger on foods and are not safe for consumption. Using clean running water is actually the best way to wash produce safely.

For more information on food safety, go to foodsafety.gov/ or www.dhss.delaware.gov/dph/hsp/foodsafety.html. The Office of Food Protection (OFP) works to ensure the safety of retail foods and food services in Delaware. OFP works with Community Environmental Health Services (CEHS) staff throughout Delaware to protect consumers and monitor compliance of food establishments with the Delaware Food Code. CEHS and OFP accomplish their mission through:

  • Permitting and inspection of restaurants, mobile units, and other food establishments;
  • Education of owners, managers and employees on food safety issues in their establishments;
  • Information for consumers on food safety; and
  • Enforcement activities to increase food safety in Delaware establishments.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, and drink almost no sugary beverages.



Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.

Last Updated: Tuesday September 22 2015
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