Government of New Brunswick

Myth: If I wear gloves while preparing food, I do not need to wash my hands.

Truth: With proper use, gloves can help reduce spread of bacteria during food preparation.  However, handwashing is still necessary because gloves can develop small holes that can allow bacteria to escape.  Gloves can also lead people to feel overconfident and make more food prep mistakes than they would without them.  In particular, gloves need to be changed and hands need to be washed when food preparation activity changes such as after touching money or raw meat, eggs, seafood or poultry. 

Myth: If food looks okay and smells okay, it’s safe to eat.

Truth:  Although a bad smell or taste are signs that food has ‘gone off’ and won't taste good, these signs are often caused by different bacteria than the ones that give you food poisoning. So, the food’s appearance, smell or taste aren't reliable warning signs.  The germs that make you sick are usually odourless, colourless, and invisible.  Storing foods at the right temperature helps prevent illness because it slows down the rate at which bacteria can multiply and they won’t grow to the large numbers to make you sick.    

Myth: If I drop my food on the floor, it is safe to eat as long as I pick it up before 5 seconds have passed (‘the five second rule’).

Truth: Some bacteria can transfer onto food almost instantly, while others need a bit of time.  They type of food and type of surface that the food is on influence how quickly bacteria can get onto your food.  When in doubt, throw it out!  Clean your food preparations surfaces and utensils often, especially after preparing high risk foods such as raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs.  

Myth:  Organic foods are ‘safer’ (less likely to make you sick) and more nutritious than non-organic foods.

Truth: The primary purpose of organic farming is not to prevent foodborne illness but to practice and promote environmentally sustainable agriculture.  While eating organic foods may avoid certain pesticides and hormones, there isn’t any significant difference in the chance of the food containing disease-causing bacteria. 

There is also not enough evidence to say that organic foods are more or less nutritious than non-organic foods. Foods like vegetables, fruit, whole grains, lean meats, low fat dairy products, legumes and eggs are all nutritious whether they are organically grown or not.

Myth: I don’t need to use a food thermometer. I can tell when my food is cooked by looking at it or checking the temperature with my finger.

Truth: The only sure way to know food has reached a safe internal temperature is to check it with a food thermometer. Color, texture, and steaming can’t confirm that a food is safe to eat. The outside of a food might be steaming hot, but there may be cold spots inside. To ensure that a food is safely cooked, and not overcooked, check it with a food thermometer. Clean your food thermometer with soap and water after each use.

Myth: When cleaning my kitchen, the more bleach I use, the better. More bleach kills more bacteria, so it’s safer for my family.

Truth: There is actually no advantage to using more bleach than needed. To clean kitchen surfaces effectively, use just one teaspoon of liquid, unscented bleach to one quart of water.

Myth: If you have an upset stomach or ‘food poisoning’, it’s usually from the last thing you ate.

Truth: Its natural to suspect the thing you ate most recently would be the cause of food poisoning, but that isn’t always the case.  Symptoms usually take between one to three days or longer to develop, so it won’t necessarily be from the last thing you ate. 

Myth:  It’s okay to let my kids have a little taste of the uncooked cookie dough/custard/sauce while I am preparing it.

Truth: Uncooked food that contains raw egg, such as hollandaise sauce, egg mayonnaise, custard, cookie dough and so on, are a higher risk of food poisoning than thoroughly cooked foods. Cooking kills most bacteria like Salmonella that may cause nausea and diarrhea.