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Mythbusters: Get the facts on kitchen safety
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There are a lot of myths floating around about things concerning the kitchen, so I thought I would share a few with you.

Myth: Lemon juice and salt will clean and sanitize a cutting board.

Fact: Sanitizing is the process of reducing the number of microorganisms that are on a properly cleaned surface to a safe level to reduce risk of foodborne illness. Lemon juice and salt will not do this. The most effective way to sanitize a cutting board as well as other kitchen surfaces is with a diluted bleach and water solution. To clean your cutting board, first wash it with hot water and soap. Then sanitize it by using a diluted chlorine bleach solution - just 1 tablespoon unscented liquid bleach (not more) to 1 gallon of water. Let the bleach solution stand on the surface for a few minutes; then rinse and blot dry with clean paper towels. It is important to clean and disinfect - just because a surface looks clean doesn't mean it is free of disease-causing bacteria.

Myth: Putting chicken in a colander and rinsing it with water will remove bacteria like salmonella.

Fact: Rinsing chicken in a colander will not remove bacteria. In fact, it can spread raw juices around your sink, onto your countertops and onto ready-to-eat foods. Bacteria in raw meat and poultry can only be killed when cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature, which for poultry is 165 F, as measured by a food thermometer. Save yourself the messiness of rinsing raw poultry. It is not a safety step and can cause cross-contamination.

Myth: Once a hamburger turns brown in the middle, it is cooked.

Fact: You cannot use visual cues to determine whether food has been cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature. The ONLY way to know that food has been cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature is to use a food thermometer. Ground meat should be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 160 F, as measured by a food thermometer.

Myth: You should not put hot food in the refrigerator.

Fact: Hot foods can be placed directly in the refrigerator. A large pot of food like soup or stew should be divided into small portions and put in shallow containers for quicker cooling in the refrigerator. If you leave food out to cool and forget about it, then toss it! Food is not safe to eat after sitting out at room temperature for more than two hours. Bacteria grows rapidly in the "danger zone" between 40 F and 140 F. Always follow the "two hour rule" - eat perishable foods or refrigerate them within two hours at a refrigerator temperature of 40 F or below. And if perishable food is left out in a room or outdoors where the temperature is 90 F or higher, food should be refrigerated or eaten within just one hour - or discarded after one hour has passed.

Source: Partnership for Food Safety Education

Debbie Wilburn is county extension agent in family and consumer science with the Hall County Extension. Contact: 770-535-8290.