1 | How many Canadians suffer from foodborne illnesses such as noroviruses and salmonella each year?
c) More than 10 million
ANSWER: c. It’s more than 10 million, according to the Government of Canada. But that estimate may be low, since many people don’t report their illnesses, says Keith Warriner, food safety and quality assurance program director at the University of Guelph. Signs of foodborne illness include diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.
Practising safe food handling can reduce your risk of contracting foodborne illnesses. Brenda Watson, the executive director for the Canadian Partnership for Consumer Food Safety Education, says to keep your food-prep surfaces clean, chill foods at 39°F (4°C) or cooler and don’t leave perishables out for more than two hours.
2 | It’s important to wash oranges and bananas before you peel them.
ANSWER: a. Any fruits and vegetables can be contaminated by bacteria from the soil or water where they grow, or be contaminated during preparation or storage. In fact, fruits and vegetables are linked to foodborne illnesses more often than any other foods, including poultry, meat and eggs, says Warriner. It’s important to clean all produce, even fruits with heavy peels. Wash produce with cool tap water and dry with a clean cloth or paper towel to help eliminate bacteria. For firm produce such as melons and cucumbers, scrub with a clean produce brush. Even if you plan to peel the fruit or vegetable before eating, wash it first so you don’t transfer dirt and bacteria from the knife to the flesh.
3 | When grilling burgers for your annual summer barbecue, you know the beef is fully cooked when the meat turns brown.
ANSWER: b. Ground beef turns brown for a number of reasons, including natural oxidation, says Annabelle Waugh, Canadian Living’s food director. “The best way to determine the doneness is to insert an instant-read thermometer into the patty horizontally, right into the centre,” she says. If the internal temperature reads 160°F (71°C), dig in. Find out our best burger recipes.
4 | You have fried rice left over from last night and two kids who are very hungry after a day spent playing in the park. The best way to serve them the rice is:
c) Not at all
ANSWER: c. If rice is not properly refrigerated or reheated after being cooked, b. Cereus bacteria thrive and multiply. It’s best not to re-cook rice, advises Warriner. But if you do, “Add water to the rice (around one teaspoon per 100 grams), then microwave until steaming hot,” he says. Then, use an instant-read thermometer to make sure it reaches at least 163°F (73°C).
5 | The best way to wash lettuce is to soak it in a bowl of cool water.
ANSWER: b. Any non-scrubbable vegetables and fruits – such as lettuce, kale and berries – should be washed with fast-running water, not soaked. The friction of running water helps remove bacteria, while still water creates a bacteria bathtub. And what about prewashed lettuce? Does it need another rinse? Likely not. Food scientists argue that if an industrial washing left E-coli behind, your home sink won’t make a difference.
5 correct: Did you study microbiology? You’re a food safety all-star!
3–4 correct: Your knowledge is good, but one slip can have bacterial consequences.
0–2 correct: Brush up on your food safety skills to keep your loved ones safe this summer.