Test Your Food-Handling IQ

Article excerpt

Before you make your next summertime meal, take this quiz

You're always washing your hands and your kitchen is spotless.

Even if you take great pride in ensuring the food you prepare is safe, chances are you may be committing a few gaffes, according to Health Canada, which estimates that 11 million to 13 million Canadians are struck with food poisoning every year.

Food safety specialists agree the chances of ingesting food-bourne pathogens goes up when temperatures soar and outdoor grilling (and eating) become commonplace.

Want to test your food-handling savvy? Before you prepare your next summertime meal, take our quiz:

1. You're hosting a backyard barbecue and one of your guests wants his hamburger medium rare. You:

A. Comply. (You make sure the burger is well browned on the outside, but juicy and a just a hint of pink on the inside).

B. Only comply if you're working with fresh, quality beef that you ground yourself that day.

C. Tell him that you don't want to make him sick and proceed to cook the burger until it reaches an internal temperature of 160 F.

2. You don't want to cross-contaminate your food, so you're always sure to disinfect your wood cutting board. To do so, you clean the board with:

A. White vinegar.

B. The dishwasher.

C. Soap, water and bleach.

3. The best way to thaw frozen, raw meat is to:

A. Leave it on the counter for several hours, ensuring that your kitchen is cool and dry.

B. Put it in the fridge.

C. Place it in a sink filled with hot water that you change often.

4. You know that chicken can harbour salmonella. To make sure your chicken breasts and legs are cooked properly, you:

A. Check that there's no pink inside.

B. Cook to an internal temperature of 165 F.

C. Cook to an internal temperature of 185 F.

5. You grilled some vegetables last night and accidently left them on the counter overnight. You're debating about whether to eat them today. Here's what crosses your mind:

A. You won't risk it. You've heard that dangerous pathogens can grow on all foods, even if they are cooked and plant-based.

B. You'll be safe dining on the left-out veggies. (After all, they are cooked as well as meat and dairy free).

C. The veggies still smell fresh, so they'll be safe to eat .

Have an interesting story you'd like Shamona to write about? Contact her at Shamona.harnett@freepress.mb.ca

ANSWERS:

1. C is correct, to the dismay of some foodies. It's relatively safe to eat a properly cooked medium-rare steak. Ground beef is different. Any existing E. coli on the beef is pressed through the meat once it's ground. A rare burger could still harbour some nasty bacteria in its centre. That's why the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) recommends cooking hamburgers to an internal temperature of 160 F. That's a temperature proven to destroy E. coli., a bacteria that causes diarrhea, vomiting and fever. At its worst, it can kill.

It's true that the longer ground beef sits around, the more likely any existing E. coli will multiply. Freshly ground beef cooked right away could harbour less E. coli.

This bacteria is naturally found in the intestines of cows and other animals. During the slaughtering process, some E. …