Many U.S. Consumers Unsure About Food Safety Practices, Survey

Many U.S. Consumers Unsure About Food Safety Practices, Survey

Many U.S. Consumers Unsure About Food Safety Practices, Survey

A survey released recently by NSF International, a non-profit public safety and health group, shows that Americans practice inconsistent basic food safety procedures in their homes. Consumers are either doing too much or not enough to prevent bacterial growth and contamination during the cooking process. Consumers showed the right caution in defrosting meat, with 78% reporting a safe method like defrosting in the refrigerator.

However, few consumers reported other basic practices, such as using a meat thermometer. They also threw out leftovers much sooner than is required, and discarded foods that were perfectly safe to eat because the expiration date was near or passed. Most leftovers can be consumed within three to four days, but consumers reported throwing them out after a day. The expiration date on foods refer more to a guarantee of quality before the date, not as a notification of spoilage. Many foods remain edible for months after their expiration date passes.

90% of consumers reported washing their hands after touching raw meat, but a fifth of them used cold water or avoided soap, making the hand washing procedure meaningless at preventing bacteria spread. NSF International hopes to use the findings of this survey to increase food safety knowledge among consumers. They warn Americans that only warm water and antibacterial soap will remove the grease and bacteria that leads to food based illnesses.

Food should be cooked as soon as it defrosts, or stored in the refrigerator until ready to cook. Freeze leftovers that you don’t plan to consume within four days, and avoid foods such as party platters that have sat out at room temperatures for over two hours. Washing packaged foods, even those that are marked as pre-washed, is another recommended procedure. By following these basic food safety rules, consumers will be able to avoid contamination and many food borne illnesses.


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