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 chicken juices around your sink, onto your counter tops, 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! Always use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of your food.

MYTH: I don’t need to clean the refrigerator produce bin because I only put fruit and vegetables in there. 

FACT: Naturally occurring bacteria in fresh fruits and vegetables can cause cross-contamination in your refrigerator. A recent NSF International study found that the refrigerator produce compartment was one of the “germiest” area in consumers’ kitchens. To prevent the buildup of bacteria that can cause food poisoning, it is essential to clean your produce bin and other bins in your refrigerator often with hot water and liquid soap, rinse thoroughly, and dry with a clean cloth towel or allow to air dry outside of the refrigerator.

MYTH: Once a hamburger turns brown in the middle, it is cooked to a safe internal temperature. 

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 safe minimum internal temperature of 160 °F, as measured by a food thermometer.

For more FIGHT BAC myth busters regarding home food safety, go to

A Safe Cooking Temperatures Reminder from the National Restaurant Association

During this 3rd week of National Food Safety Education Month, food service operators and consumers are reminded of the safe cooking temperatures required for foods that need to be time and temperature controlled in order to help protect against food borne illness.  Take a look at this short video from the National Restaurant Association as a reminder of the various categories of food and their respective cooking temperatures: 

Direct link to video:


MYTH: When kids cook it is usually “heat and eat” snacks and foods in the microwave. They don’t have to worry about food safety – the microwaves kill the germs!

FACT: Microwaves aren’t magic! 
It’s the heat the microwaves generate that kills the germs! Food cooked in a microwave needs to be heated to a safe internal temperature. Microwaves often heat food unevenly, leaving cold spots in food where germs can survive. Kids can use microwaves properly by carefully following package instructions. Even simple “heat and eat” snacks come with instructions that need to be followed to ensure a safe product. Use a food thermometer if the instructions tell you to!


MYTH: Only kids eat raw cookie dough and cake batter. If we just keep kids away from the raw products when adults are baking, there won’t be a problem!

FACT: Just a lick can make you sick! 
No one of any age should eat raw cookie dough or cake batter because it could contain germs that cause illness. Whether it’s pre-packaged or homemade, the heat from baking is required to kill germs that might be in the raw ingredients. The finished, baked, product is far safer – and tastes even better! So don’t do it! And remember, kids who eat raw cookie dough and cake batter are at greater risk of getting food poisoning than most adults are.

Straight from the Field: Teachable Moments

Contributed By Jen Mesta, Environmental Health Specialist

Restaurant fire clip art

Fire Rages and Sparks Complaint
Happily out on a Saturday night with my boyfriend at Trader Joe’s, I received an unexpected call from one of our supervisors: We had received a complaint through Poison Control about a local restaurant that was currently open for business and smelled like it had been on fire. The supervisor made an effort to contact other inspectors with no success. I hung my head, grimaced at the thought of ending our lovely night, and dutifully offered to go check it out.
In retrospect, I am grateful to have seen a nighttime food service in full swing and in the heat of production at a charred cooking station. The first manager I spoke to was aware of the facility’s recent fire but had no details to give me. Luckily, another manager arrived at the door, and he had all the details!
We started to walk down the cooking line to survey the damage at the cook station, but I was forced to stop at a major violation unfolding right before my very eyes! A central hand sink was overflowing onto the floor because it was being used to thaw shrimp (ugh), and contaminated water from the overflow was dripping into an open container of raw nuts. (UGH!) “Sorry, new guy”, says the manager as he quickly corrects the problems. (You can’t make these stories up!)
Further down the line, we assessed the fire damage that occurred when a night cleaning crew member haphazardly pulled out a fryer. He heard a hissing sound from a gas leak and instinctively shoved the fryer back against the wall. Suddenly, there was a “POOF” from the igniting gas and flames that shot down the line. The flash fire damaged water lines, gas lines, and major equipment. The ANSUL system above the cook line shot out fire suppression chemicals, and the sprinkler system sprayed water that ruined light ballasts and ceiling tiles.
Long story short”ish”… the food stored on the line was discarded, all damaged materials were replaced, and a major “front to back” cleaning of the facility took place. Linen was bagged up for laundry service while dishes, utensils, and cookware were cleaned using the dish machine and three-compartment sink. The fire department inspected all of the systems and cleared the restaurant for operation. Great! I couldn’t have done a better job myself!
The one thing the management failed to do was contact the health department for a “post-fire” inspection that would have determined what needed to be corrected before the facility resumed operation—This is very important. Nevertheless, I was quite impressed by their ability to turn around a really awful situation so quickly and after my visit, I’m glad to say we’re all on the same page.