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CONSUMER SERVICES

Food Safety
What's Your Cool IQ?

The importance of keeping cold food cold is the focus of Food Safety Month this September. In Virginia, food safety experts remind us to use proper refrigeration and prompt cooling techniques to protect food from harmful bacteria.

How much do you know about cold food storage, handling and preparation? Take this quick true-false quiz to determine your Cool IQ.

Quiz

TRUE OR FALSE?

1. Refrigeration prevents bacterial growth.

2. The refrigerator temperature should be set at 40F and the freezer temperature should be set at 0F.

3. The best method to thaw food is at room temperature.

4. The refrigerator should be tightly packed with food and containers to keep items cold.

5. A refrigerator/freezer thermometer is the best tool to check and monitor the temperature inside the refrigerator and freezer compartments.

6. Perishables, prepared foods and leftovers need to be refrigerated or frozen within 5 hours of purchase or preparation.

7. To thaw quickly, it's best to submerge food in cold water in airtight packaging, or thaw food in the microwave and cook immediately.

8. Always marinate foods in the refrigerator.

9. Hot foods should be placed directly in the refrigerator.

10. When traveling, stow the cooler with perishable food in the trunk to avoid the sunlight and added heat.

Answers

1. FALSE. Refrigeration slows, but does not prevent growth of harmful bacteria. Always remember to refrigerate food quickly!

2. TRUE.

3. FALSE. Always defrost food in the refrigerator. This is the safest method for all foods. Use the microwave to defrost food only if it will be cooked immediately. To quickly thaw meat and poultry in airtight packaging, submerge frozen package into cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes, so the meat continues to thaw.

4. FALSE. Don't overfill the refrigerator. Cold air must be able to circulate inside the refrigerator to keep food cold and safe. Remove clutter from the refrigerator on a routine basis.

5. TRUE. Thermometers are valuable kitchen tools. Check the temperature of the refrigerator on a regular basis using a refrigerator/freezer thermometer.

6. FALSE. Perishables, prepared food and leftovers need to be refrigerated or frozen within 2 hours of purchase or preparation, and if the temperature is above 90F, foods should not be left out for longer than an hour.

7. TRUE.

8. TRUE.

9. TRUE. But, divide large quantities of food into shallow containers for quicker cooling.

10. FALSE. Travel with the cooler stored in the coolest part of the car. The trunk is usually one of the hottest spots because of lack of ventilation.

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