With so much information flowing through the web every day, it can be pretty hard to distinguish the truth from a hoax. When it comes to food, the confusion just keeps piling on as we try to make the best choices possible. Curious to see if what you’ve heard is accurate? Here are the Top 10 Food Myths You Still Believe (Part 2).
10. Washing Raw Meat Is Good
One of the first things you’re taught when you start cooking for yourself is the importance of washing your chicken before preparing it. It’s supposed to get rid of all the bacteria, filth, or anything that could be harmful to you. Well, as much as this has been believed and promoted for decades, it’s time to set the records straight: you should not wash your poultry, and here’s why. As you rinse off your raw chicken in the sink, water will inevitably splash all over, right? All over your sink, on your countertops, and even on your clothes. These water droplets are exactly how bacteria can spread across your kitchen and infect everything it touches. You see, there’s a high chance that your raw chicken could be contaminated with a bunch of bacteria like Campylobacter, Salmonella, and Clostridium Perfringens, which can all lead to serious foodborne illnesses. By putting it under the water, you’re increasing the chance of those bacteria ending up on other things in the kitchen, like towels and other dishes. And since only a few bacteria cells are needed to cause food poisoning, the odds are not in your favor. Now, you’re probably wondering how you can get rid of the bacteria if you aren’t supposed to wash it off. It’s easy, really: just cook it! Cooking thoroughly will be more than enough to kill the bacteria and make your chicken safe to eat. Just make sure to wash every utensil, chopping boards, and surfaces the raw chicken touched, and you will be good to go!
9. The 5-Second Rule
We’re all guilty of believing this one: you’re eating something that tastes exquisite, and suddenly, you drop it on the floor. Someone yells “Don’t worry, 5-Second rule!” So, you pick it up, dust it up a bit before popping it in your mouth as if nothing happened. Sadly, as convenient as this rule may sound, it is not effective. Yes, very disappointing, we know, but also very true. Scientists have even taken it upon themselves to test the theory just to make sure. As it turns out, germs will latch onto your treats pretty darn fast, no matter where you drop them. According to a Rutgers University study, bacteria can actually transfer to your food in under a second, depending on the scenario. Sure, dirty floors will usually be worse, but just because it looks clean does not mean that something is free of bacteria. You can’t see them, but some germs can survive on the floor for a very long time. Another thing: the wetter the food, the faster the bacteria transfer will occur. So, if you drop an apple, it will be more contaminated than a cookie, foe example. Obviously, food will pick up more bacteria if it spends more time on the floor, so if it spends 5 seconds or less, it will collect fewer bacteria, but ultimately, it will still collect a reasonable amount. The moral of the story: no matter what your rule is, whether it’s 5 or 10 seconds, if it fell on the floor, you better just accept your loss and give it a toss – you can never be too careful.
8. American Cheese Is Cheese
It’s actually quite surprising how much this particular myth is still believed today. In a way, it makes sense because it is called cheese, after all, but you shouldn’t be fooled: American cheese is not real cheese. Those pre-packaged, convenient slices of cheese that make the perfect grilled cheese sandwiches and complement your burgers cannot technically fall into the cheese category. According to the FDA, it’s more of a “cheese product” than actual cheese. It’s officially labeled as a “pasteurized processed American cheese product.” But, why can’t it be considered real cheese, you ask? Well, if the bright, neon orange color hasn’t given anything away yet, here’s an explanation. In order for a product to be a true “cheese,” it needs to contain more than 50% actual cheese, but American cheese slices don’t reach that quota and can’t meet the FDA’s standards. Of course, it’s not totally a fraud, there is some form of real cheese in it, like Cheddar and Colby, but by the time the processing is done, they’re no longer the main ingredients. The cheese base is combined with a mixture of whey, milk proteins, and emulsifying salts, which allows the slices to melt without breaking or turning greasy. So, while you might be getting a satisfying cheesy bite, you’re not getting it from real cheese. Just keep that in mind next time you’re making your next grilled cheese sandwich!
7. Coffee Stunts Growth
As a kid or as a teenager, you’ve probably been denied a cup of coffee more than once. The reasoning? It will stunt your growth! Well, even though it’s probably too late now, we can tell you that coffee has nothing to do with how tall you are. Your height mostly has to do with your genes and how well you eat, and not your caffeine intake. Sure, coffee has caffeine, which can create its own set of problems, but it will not affect your bone growth. That has been proven after extensive studies and research done by the Harvard Medical School. From these studies, no single shred of evidence has been found to confirm the idea that drinking coffee can impact your growth. Instead, they believe this rumor grew as a result of another rumor: that coffee causes osteoporosis, a bone condition that can be associated with a loss of height. Again, not coffee’s fault! It was most likely a way for parents not to give their kids coffee so it wouldn’t keep them up all night! So, in other words, if you think you’re too short and blame it on the cup of joe you had when you were 15, sorry to break it to you, but it’s not the coffee’s fault!
6. Coke Can Dissolve Everything
This is another myth that’s been going around for what feels like forever and, even after being debunked many times, keeps on living. Coca-Cola has been the subject of many rumors and hoaxes over the years, but the more persistent one has got to be the myth about Coke bing able to dissolve just about anything. Anything from a penny, to a nail, to even a tooth – if you leave it in Coke overnight, all will be gone by morning. This led to people to claim that drinking Coke will rot your teeth and essentially melt your insides. While, yes, Coke does contain certain acids, like phosphoric, citric, and carbonic, and yes, acid can usually dissolve things, this scientific rule does not apply to your everyday can of Coca-Cola. In fact, Coke has less acid than orange juice – and you don’t see anyone making a big fuss about that, do you? On top of that, your own natural stomach acid is more acidic than any food or drink, meaning a glass of Coke is not going to permanently hurt your stomach in any way. Plus, even if Coca-Cola did have the ability to dissolve your teeth overnight, who in their right mind would keep the liquid in their mouths for more than a few seconds? Even if Coke could hurt our teeth, we don’t give it enough time to do it. So, drink with a piece of mind; your teeth are fine! Although cavities are another story.
5. Carrots Help You See In The Dark
You’ve probably heard this one many times growing up: if you want good eyesight, you need to eat your carrots! At first, it seems like this could be true since carrots are high in beta carotene, which is something essential for healthy eyes, but there’s always a limit to everything. If you lack beta carotene – or Vitamin A – you will most likely lose some of your “night vision” since it can lead to a decrease in the level of a pigment in your eyes that helps you see in the dark. However, eating lots of carrots will only help restore your night vision to normal levels – not give you superhuman, X-Men style vision to see in complete darkness. That part is just bogus, and the myth can be traced back to WWII. The British Royal Air Force began using new, top-secret technology to defend against the enemy, which today we know as radar. In order to keep the secret from spreading around, when they were asked how their Air Force was able to perform so well, even at night, they lied and said it was because the pilots ate a lot of carrots and were able to see everything that went on. We don’t know if the German military ever bought this excuse or not, but we sure did! The news spread, and people began eating carrots like there was no tomorrow. The idea simply never entirely left popular belief and is still believed by many people to this day.
4. Best-Before And Expiration Dates Are The Same
There’s nothing worse than buying something to eat and not even getting to try it because you waited too long to eat it. However, there is a way to reduce your waste by at least half simply by knowing that the “best-before” and expiration dates are two different things. Mind blowing, right? When you see a “best-before” date on your food, it’s to ensure that you get the best, freshest flavor possible. Manufacturers have to use those to let you know that even if the product changes in texture, color, or even taste, it’s still perfectly safe to eat – up to a certain point, obviously. They’re basically a quality indicator, if you will. Unopened shelf-stable products like canned goods can actually stay edible for a very long time if they remain unopened. On the other hand, expiration dates are a bit different. These tell you the last day a product is safe to consume, which usually applies more to perishable goods such as fresh fish or meat. Expiration dates should always be respected, while best-before dates are a little more lenient. The amount of food being wasted is estimated to be enough to feed millions daily, especially since people tend to overgeneralize the meaning of the date printed on the packaging. To avoid unnecessarily wasting food, buy only what you need and be aware of what those dates mean.
3. McDonald’s Burgers Don’t Rot
A few years ago, a rumor started to spread about fast food giant McDonald’s. Apparently, McDonald’s food was incapable of rotting due to all the chemicals and preservatives they put in it. That means you could leave a Big Mac in a box for decades, and it would still look immaculate. But, as most people know, that’s not entirely accurate. The real reason why McD’s hamburgers seem indestructible and incapable of rotting is that they are dehydrated. You see, in order for food to decompose, it needs moisture. Microbes that cause rot need warmth, water, nutrients, and time to grow, and since the burgers don’t have that moisture, decomposition is very unlikely. It has nothing to do with the supposed chemicals. In fact, the same phenomenon can also be observed on homemade food left to dehydrate. If they were in the right environment, McDonald’s hamburgers could easily decompose, like in plastic bags, for instance. The chain claims that its burgers are made with only 100% USDA inspected beef and that there are no preservatives or fillers of any kind in the patties. The only thing it adds is a touch of salt and pepper when it hits the grill and a little of Ronald’s TLC.
2. All Preservatives Are Bad For You
Speaking of evil preservatives, most people tend to be afraid of anything that contains any type of preservatives. While the initial reaction to just stay clear of them is justified, it’s not every type that’s bad. Let us explain: preservatives are added to food to prevent bacterial growth and extend shelf life as much as possible. Preservatives are basically to thank for the food we have at the supermarket, as without them, most food wouldn’t even make it to the store. With that in mind, yes, there are some less than desirable preservatives out there that can be harmful. Staying away from artificial preservatives such as nitrites or nitrates used in processed meats would be wise as these could cause a lot of health problems. None should be used in excess, but overall, most are important to ensure food quality, availability, and safety. Genetically modified foods have also come with a great deal of debate as to whether or not they’re dangerous for our health, but so far, research has concluded that they are safe for consumption. In other words, don’t be afraid of certain foods since regulatory agencies make sure the concentration of preservatives used in food is always safe.
1. Honey Expires
We’ve mentioned before how people often misunderstand their food labels and end up wasting a lot of food. Well, the same applies to honey. You know when you’re cleaning out your pantry, and you come across that forgotten, crystalized bottle of honey, just sitting in the back, collecting dust? When that happens, what’s your first reflex? If it’s to throw it away because you think it’s expired, we have news for you. Honey doesn’t actually expire – at least if you store it properly. It might change color – go from clear to cloudy – and change in texture, becoming thicker and grainier over time, but it will never spoil. If honey is stored in a sealed container at the proper temperature, there is no reason to believe it’s not safe to eat. Since most of the water in honey interacts with sugars, there isn’t enough “free water” for bacteria to multiply, rendering it almost immortal. According to the National Honey Board, honey can even remain stable for centuries! Even though it might lose some of its aroma and flavor after a while, it will never lose its edibility. Besides, if, for some reason, your honey does turn bad, don’t worry; it won’t go undetected – the sour taste will be pretty obvious!