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Eating safe? Nine questions that test your food-safety know-how

America’s food supply is one of the safest in the world. But...once the food leaves the grocery store or restaurant, the responsibility for food safety is up to YOU!

America’s food supply is one of the safest in the world. All along the food chain – farmers, manufacturers, supermarkets and restaurants –food is regulated and monitored.

But once food leaves the grocery store or restaurant, the responsibility for food safety is up to YOU!

See how much you know about food safety by taking this quick quiz:

  • Situation 1: Last night you left cooked roast beef on the counter to cool before putting it in the refrigerator. You fell asleep and discovered it this morning. You immediately put it in the refrigerator. Should you EAT or TOSS the roast beef?
  • Situation 2: You make an egg salad sandwich and cut it in half on a cutting board. When you carry it into the family room you find out that your spouse had cut raw chicken on the board just before you used it. Should you EAT or TOSS the egg salad sandwich?
  • Situation 3: You discover a hunk of hard parmesan cheese in the back of your refrigerator. It has some spots of mold on it. Should you EAT or TOSS the Parmesan cheese?
  • Situation 4: You and your daughter have a great summer lunch at a relative’s house at noon. The relative packs a “doggie” bag with some chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, and bread for you to take home. After stopping at a few rummage sales and a store, you get home at 4:30 p.m. Should you EAT or TOSS the contents of the “doggie” bag?
  • Situation 5: You discover your spouse has marinated chicken pieces in the refrigerator overnight, before baking them in the oven to 170 degrees. Should you EAT or TOSS the chicken?
  • Situation 6: Your son cooks hamburgers on the grill. When he brings them in the house you break one open and red juice comes out. Should you EAT or TOSS the burger?Many and child grilling
  • Situation 7: You clean out your food storage cabinet. There are a few cans with little dents in them. Two other cans are bulging at the seams and leaking a little bit. Should you EAT or TOSS the canned goods?
  • Situation 8: You take a nice, fresh head of lettuce out of the refrigerator and discover that raw meat has dripped on it from the shelf above. Should you EAT or TOSS the lettuce?
  • Situation 9: You stay overnight at your sister’s house. When you get up in the morning she is cooking up sausages that were left to defrost on the counter overnight.  Should you EAT or TOSS the sausages?


  1. TOSS the roast beef. Cooked meat and other leftovers shouldn’t be left out at room temperature longer than two hours.
  2. TOSS the egg salad sandwich. Cross-contamination happens when bacteria from one food spreads to another, often on a cutting board or plate. After each use, wash the board in hot, soapy water (rinsing and wiping is not enough!). Consider having a cutting board just for raw meat, poultry and seafood.
  3. EAT…with a few modifications. Molds on hard cheeses aren’t usually dangerous. To be on the safe side, cut and discard one inch of the cheese on all sides of the mold. Cover the cheese in fresh wrap. (Soft cheeses, like cream and cottage cheese, Brie, etc. should be tossed if they develop mold.)
  4. TOSS. It’s been without refrigeration for too long. Remember, two hours is the maximum (and only ONE hour if the temperature is over 90 degrees).
  5. EAT. Your spouse did everything right! Marinating should be done in the refrigerator. And the chicken was heated to the proper temperature – yes!
  6. DON’T EAT IT…but you probably wouldn’t want to toss it either. Return to the grill, or cook by microwave or stove, until the internal temperature is 160° and/or the juices run clear. Then use a CLEAN plate to bring the burgers in! (Remember…cross contamination - see answer 2!)
  7. EAT and TOSS. Small dents in cans are okay – the food is safe to EAT. If the dents create a sharp seam or if the can is bulging or leaking (even a little bit) TOSS IT!
  8. TOSS. Once juice from raw meat (or poultry or fish) has dripped onto a food that will not be cooked, you cannot make it better by washing it.
  9. DON’T EAT. This is a trick question. It’s your sister’s house, so you wouldn’t want to throw away her food…but don’t eat it either. (And it might be an opportunity to tell her about food safety!)

A general phrase to remember is, “When in doubt, throw it out!”

Several national agencies are tasked with protecting and promoting the health of U.S. residents. For more information on food safety, visit FoodSafety.gov, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Food and Nutrition Information Center at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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