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Safe eating quiz.

Let's see. Is it safe to eat raw fish? Or is that raw fish only if it's been marinated?

And what does the date that's stamped on your milk carton mean?

And isn't blue the food coloring that can give you hives? Or is it red?

You'll know the answers--and a lot more--after you take our "CSPI (more-or-less) Tri-annual Food Safety Quiz." It's designed to show you what you know (and don't know) about buying, storing, and preparing foods.

So, boys and girls, sharpen your pencils... and no talking,

You've probably never taken a quiz this tough. You'll be lucky to get even half of the questions right. But don't let that get you down. Just trying to figure out why the correct answer is correct will help you eat more safely. Many of the questions are about meat, poultry, and fish because that's where the biggest risks are. There is only one correct answer for each question. Good luck.


1. For how long can you safely keep your raw ground beef in the refrigerator?

a. a week

b. 5 days

c. 3 days

d. 1-2 days

2. It's safe to re-freeze food-- even meat and poultry--as long as it's been thawed in the refrigerator.

a. true

b. false

3. What's the healthiest way to cook a steak?

a. quickly over high heat

b. until it's well-done

c. pre-cook it in a microwave just before broiling or barbecuing

d. all of the above

4. Which will most reduce your risk of cancer from grilling meat?

a. using mesquite rather than charcoal

b. using a drip pan

c. grilling closer to the heat

d. basting frequently

e. none of the above

5. How soon should you refrigerate fresh or left-over meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, or dairy products?

a. immediately

b. within one hour

c. within two hours

d. within three hours

6. What's the best way to refrigerate the quart of beef stew that's left over from dinner?

a. in several shallow containers

b. in one deep container

c. in the pot in which it was cooked

7. A roast chicken is thoroughly cooked when:

a. the juices run clear

b. the leg moves easily in its socket

c. it reaches an internal temperature of 180 degrees

d. any of the above

8. At the seafood counter, the word "fresh" is supposed to mean:

a. caught within the last 72 hours

b. caught within the last week

c. never frozen or heated

d. shipped from less than 100 miles away

9. Which fish is least likely to contain chemical contaminants like PCBs or pesticides?

a. haddock

b. bluefish

c. lake trout

d. striped bass

10. It's safe to eat raw fish as long as it's been marinated in lemon juice or vinegar for at least four hours.

a. true

b. false

11. What's the best sandwich to pack for your child's brown bag lunch on a very hot day?

a. tuna salad

b. peanut butter and jelly

c. cottage cheese and fruit

d. leftover roast beef

e. any of the above

12. Once the date stamped on a milk carton has been reached, the milk:

a. shouldn't be sold

b. shouldn't be consumed

c. has lost most of its nutritional value

d. all of the above

13. Which of the following cheeses can be stored at room temperature?

a. provolone

b. swiss

c. parmesan

d. cheddar

e. none of the above

14. About how many people die from food poisoning in the U.S. each year?

a. 100

b. 1,000

c. 10,000

d. 100,000

15. You can't get food poisoning if you thoroughly cook your food and eat it promptly.

a. true

b. false

16. Food poisoning may cause long-term complications like:

a. arthritis

b. heart disease

c. kidney disease

d. all of the above

e. none of the above

17. The first symptoms of food poisoning can occur:

a. immediately

b. within 2 to 48 hours after eating

c. from two days to a week after eating

d. any of the above

18. Which food has been linked to food poisoning?

a. chopped garlic

b. honey

c. apple cider

d. raw cabbage

e. all of the above

f. none of the above

19. You're most likely to get Staphylococcus food poisoning from:

a. an infected cut on your hand

b. raw meat or poultry

c. undercooked eggs

d. home-canned foods

20. If the shell isn't cracked, you can't get Salmonella food poisoning from eating an under-cooked or raw egg.

a. true

b. false

21. Once a food has been irradiated, you can't get food poisoning from eating it.

a. true

b. false

22. Which of these food preservatives poses a health risk?

a. BHA

b. calcium propionate

c. triethyl citrate

d. all of the above

e. none of the above

23. What should you use to sweeten your coffee, tea, or other beverage?

a. acesulfame K (Sweet One)

b. aspartame (Equal)

c. saccharin (Sweet'N Low)

d. sugar or honey

24. Which artificial food coloring is most likely to cause allergic reactions?

a. Blue 2

b. Blue 1

c. Yellow 5

d. Red 3

25. Ten percent of all bottled water starts out as tap water.

a. true

b. false

26. An "EPA-approved" water filter meets minimum standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency for removing bacteria and other harmful substances.

a. true

b. false


1. d. The sooner you use it, the better. Some bugs--Listeria, for instance--tolerate cold well, and can continue to multiply inside your refrigerator.

2. a. We know your mother told you different. Just don't let the food lie around in the fridge for more than a day or two before you re-freeze it. What re-freezing does to the texture or taste is another matter.

3. c. You'll reduce the formation of risky heterocyclic amines (HAs) if you pre-cook your steak in the microwave on "High" for 30 to 90 seconds just before you broil or barbecue it. Make sure you discard the juice. You'll get more HAs from high temperatures and well-done meats.

4. b. The key is to prevent fat from dripping on the heat source, which can produce splatter or smoke that deposits cancer-causing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) on the meat.

5. c. Two hours is the maximum, assuming the food has been at room temperature. If it's been hotter--in a shopping bag in the trunk of your car, for instance---try to get it into the fridge sooner.

6. a. The idea is to get it cooled down as quickly as possible. Shallow containers are best for that.

7. d. Help for the thermometerly challenged.

8. c. That's what it's supposed to mean. In many cases, though, we suspect that "fresh" means anything the store wants it to.

9. a. You'll find the least PCBs and pesticides in low-fat fish that are caught far offshore. Striped bass and bluefish migrate, so they could have high levels, no matter where they're caught.

10. b. Ceviche may taste delicious, but "cooking"by marinating is not going to kill all the harmful bacteria or parasites that the fish could contain.

11. b. Your youngster is less likely to come down with the runs-- or a more serious illness--if you stay away from meat, fish, or dairy. Save them for winter outings.

12. a. It probably won't start to go sour for another week, though.

13. c. Its low moisture content prevents most microorganisms that cause spoilage from growing. The same goes for romano cheese.

14. c. That's the best guess o/most health authorities.

15. b. Cooked food can become contaminated if it comes in contact with a utensil, dish, countertop, or hand that was used to prepare uncooked food. What's more, cooking doesn't destroy some biological toxins (not germs) that could be in fish or ham that wasn't refrigerated properly before being cooked.

16. d. Those and more.

17. d. It's most likely to hit you after anywhere from two hours to two days. But some toxins in fish work within minutes, while botulism could take up to a week.

18. e. Amazing. You could probably get food poisoning from any food, although meat, poultry, and shellfish are by far the worst offenders. Infants less than a year old can get botulism from honey--even an amount small enough to sweeten the nipples of their bottles.

19. a. The Staphylococcus bacteria in the cut can contaminate any food you're preparing. And if the food is left at room temperature long enough, the bacteria can produce a toxin that isn't destroyed by cooking.

20. b. If the ovaries of the hen that laid the egg were contaminated, the Salmonella bacteria could have gotten into the egg before the shell formed.

21. b. Irradiation might kill most of the bugs that are there, but it also makes it easier for the ones that survive to thrive.

22. a. BHA is "possibly" carcinogenic to humans, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer. The other two are harmless.

23. d. None of them are great. But you're probably better off with a bit of sugar or honey (unless you're diabetic), even though they provide empty calories and promote tooth decay and obesity. Acesulfame K and saccharin may slightly increase your risk of cancer, and aspartame hasn't been adequately tested for safety.

24. c. A small percentage of people (most of whom are also sensitive to aspirin) react to Yellow 5 with asthma, hives, or a runny nose.

25. b. Hold your water bottles, folks. Twenty-five percent of all bottled water started out in some tap.

26. b. No federal agency approves water-treatment units. But ones that use silver must register with the EPA. That's all the "approval" means. Pretty sneaky, huh?


Give yourself one point for each correct answer.

Your Score _____

If you scored:

21 to 26 LEAPING LISTENING! Award yourself a Ph.D. in Food Safetyology. All two of you, that is.

16 to 20 GREAT GIARDIA! Send us your resume.

11 to 15 COMMON AS CAMPYLOBACTER! Actually, not bad at all. This is where most people scored.

6 to 10 BOTULISM BLUES! Give yourself a good kick in the aspartame. Then tape this quiz to your fridge.

below 5 SALMONELLA CITY! Don't touch that stove until you've called the USDA's Meat and Poultry Hotline (1-800-535-4555).
COPYRIGHT 1993 Center for Science in the Public Interest
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:how to purchase, store and prepare foods safely
Publication:Nutrition Action Healthletter
Article Type:Cover Story
Date:Nov 1, 1993
Previous Article:No matter how you slice 'em.
Next Article:Letting the chips fall.

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