Food Safety Corner: Quiz Yourself

What do you know about the common kitchen practices you use? Can you make yourself sick without even knowing it? This article from the Seattle Times may help you to find out how safe you’re being.

“Old habits die hard. That may be particularly true for kitchen routines. But could your typical food-handling habits be making you sick?

Each year 76 million Americans suffer from foodborne illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Though most cases are mild — a day or two of stomach upset — it can be serious for children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems.

Take our quiz to test your food safety IQ. Find out if you’re following the most up-to-date advice to prevent foodborne illness or if you’re making some risky food-safety mistakes.”

However, I have a problem with one of the items in the article:

“4. You made a big batch of chili for the weekend. Do you let it cool down and then put the stockpot directly in the refrigerator?

Answer: No. Cooked foods don’t need to cool down first. Refrigerate promptly and be sure they chill quickly. That means using shallow containers about 2 inches deep (which rules out your stockpot). Food left at room temperature longer than two hours may not be safe to eat.”

While the article is correct that you should use shallow containers, and that food shouldn’t stay in the danger zone for more than 2 hours, it is definitely NOT a good idea to put hot food in the fridge, since doing so can raise the temperature of ALL the food in the fridge into the danger zone. Cool food quickly in an ice bath, reduce the volume into several containers, and stir often. This will bring the temparature down quickly so that you can then refrigerate it.

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4 Responses to “Food Safety Corner: Quiz Yourself”

  1. EY

    Hi Mark
    Thanks for the article, and the podcasts. I’ve been listening to them now for several weeks, ever since i’ve been turned onto podcasts. I do have a question for you however, i’ve been wanting to make some infused oils at home, but want a “safe” way of doing it, and storing them. Thanks a lot, and look forward to hearing your opinion on this and future podcasts.

    (yes pronounced as you see it “E” “Y”)

  2. Jason Truesdell

    I think that this recommendation is based on typical Health Department manuals… It’s appropriate for commercial kitchens with big walk-in refrigerators, but doesn’t take into account the limitations of smaller consumer refrigerators.

    At home, I usually don’t leave food out to cool for 2 hours though… Usually in the portions that I cook, they are down to room temperature within about 30 minutes, and I can always follow the other, corollary health departnment recommendation, which is that if your refrigeration equipment is too small for the amount you are chilling, rest your shallow containers in an ice bath to help rapidly cool them.

  3. EY

    Hello Mark
    I appologize, i should have clearified on what i meant by “safe”, but you were right in your guess, i meant it in a “Food Safety Health Risk” manner. Using Herbs or Vegetables to flavor the oils, and not run the risk of Botulism or other Microbes, weather they need to be stored in the refridgerator, or if storing on the counter is ok? Do you have to heat the oils up to a certain temperature? If using Herbs, do they have to be Dried? What is the shelf live of a Home Infused oil? Again I apologize for not making myself clear enough, I enjoy listening to your shows and look forward to the podcast about Infusing Oils as you mentioned in your last cast. Thanks again.

    Dubuque, Iowa

  4. relly

    Hello, I agree with you, that was a question i asked when i had the food hygiene courses. Very interesting not only to food professionals but also to households information.
    The best way to cool down foods before conserving in the refrigerator is with the iced water, they adviced to restaurants and food caterers in absences of “cellule de refroidisement” or cooling chamber!
    Thanks for sharing!