You may be surprised to know that about 48 million people in the United States get sick from food poisoning every year. That doesn’t mean food poisoning is inevitable—there’s a lot you can do to protect yourself and your family.
Take this quick quiz to see if you know about safe food handling and preparation.
1. Food poisoning is no big deal. Your stomach gets over it after a couple days.
Correct answer: b) False!
Food-borne illnesses not only make you feel miserable, they can also be serious and can have long-lasting effects. Food poisoning can even cause death (3,000 Americans die from it each year). The good news is that you can take steps to prevent food poisoning.
2. To stop the spread of bacteria, you need to wash your hands with soap and running water for at least:
a) 2 seconds
b) 20 seconds
c) 1 minute
d) 5 minutes
Correct answer: b)
At least 20 seconds is recommended. It takes about 20 seconds to sing “Happy Birthday” from beginning to end twice, so many people use that as a way to time how long they need to wash their hands.
3. If you peel fruits or vegetables, you don’t need to wash them.
Correct answer: b) False!
Bacteria can spread from the outside to the inside as you cut or peel fruit or vegetables.
4. Which of these approaches for defrosting meat and poultry is NOT recommended:
a) Put it on the counter in the morning so it will thaw by dinnertime
b) Move it to the refrigerator 24 hours before you want to serve it
c) Place it in a sink full of cold water, and change the water every 30 minutes
Defrost them in the microwave
Correct answer: a)
It is dangerous to defrost food on the counter because bacteria can multiply quickly at room temperature. You can safely defrost frozen meats in the refrigerator or in a sink full of cold water, as long as the food is sealed tightly and you cook it immediately after it is thawed. It is safe to defrost frozen meat in the microwave if you follow the instructions in your owner’s manual.
5. Which is recommended for safe handling of raw meat, poultry, and seafood:
a) Rinse off the juices with water before cooking
b) Keep them separate from all other foods in your shopping cart at the grocery store and place them in separate bags to prevent juices from dripping on other food items
c) Store them separately from all other foods in the refrigerator and consider putting them in plastic containers or sealed plastic bags
Correct answer: b) and c).
Bacteria can spread if the juices from raw meat, poultry or seafood get onto other foods. Rinsing these foods is NOT recommended because it can splash bacteria onto the sink and counters.
6. The food thermometer reading needs to show which temperature in order for chicken and turkey to be safe to eat:
Correct answer: c)
165°F. Use a food thermometer to ensure that foods are cooked to a safe internal temperature: 145°F for whole meats, 160°F for ground meats, and 165°F for all poultry. If you’re not sure what the proper cooking temperature is, see this temperature guide.
7. The correct temperature for your refrigerator is:
b) Between 32°F and 40°F
c) Between 45°F and 55°F
d) However it is set when it is delivered from the store
Correct answer: b)
Keeping your refrigerator temperature between 32°F and 40°F prevents bacteria from growing.
8. Which of these are true:
a) Leftovers are safe to eat until they smell bad
b) Freezing foods will kill any bacteria in them
c) Marinades have acid that kills bacteria so you can marinate meat without refrigerating it
d) None of the above
Correct answer: d) None of those statements are true! It’s not always possible to see or smell when harmful bacteria have started growing in your leftovers or refrigerated foods. If you’re not sure, see this chart of safe food storage times. Freezing food does not destroy bacteria, so you need to handle food safely before you freeze it. Marinating meat outside the refrigerator can let dangerous bacteria grow, so it is always recommended to refrigerate meat while marinating it.
These articles are not a substitute for medical advice, and are not intended to treat or cure any disease. Advances in medicine may cause this information to become outdated, invalid, or subject to debate. Professional opinions and interpretations of scientific literature may vary. Consult your healthcare professional before making changes to your diet, exercise, or medication regimen.
Basics for Handling Food Safely, US Department of Agriculture:
Be Food Safe: Protect Yourself from Food Poisoning, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
Dangerous Food Safety Food Mistakes, US Department of Health and Human Services:
Food Safety, Medline Plus:
Food Safety Myths Exposed, US Department of Health and Human Services:
Four Basic Steps to Food Safety at Home, Food and Drug Administration:
Long-Term Effects, US Department of Health and Human Services: