POSTED: Sunday, July 1, 2012 - 9:00am
UPDATED: Sunday, July 1, 2012 - 9:04am
NBC NATIONAL NEWS — Summertime spent outside can be a dangerous place for food, but some summertime food fears are simply unfounded.
Diane Van with the US Department of Agriculture helped bust some food safety myths.
The most common myth is mayonnaise-based salads left unrefrigerated can make you sick.
"Mayo is not the problem... they are acidified and pasteurized. It's the food you put them on that support bacterial growth," said Van.
Treat mayonnaise salads like you would any other food refrigerating after two hours, one hour if it is hot weather.
If you want more time put your picnic foods on ice.
Food safety myth number two is never cook directly on public grills.
"Well that's not true. As long as you clean before you use it there's no reason why you can't use a public grill or your home grill if it's dirty. The best way is to heat the charcoal or the gas up and make sure it gets to about 500 degrees and that will burn any dirt or soil off the grill and then you take and then you can take a brush or some foil and you can just clean your grill," said Van.
Another myth, you should wash meat and poultry before cooking.
False. In fact, bacteria in raw meat and poultry juices can splash and spread to other foods, utensils and surfaces if you rinse before cooking.
Next myth is grilled foods increase your risk for cancer.
"Grilled foods are safe in moderation and certainly you want to avoid charring on any of the meat according to the National Cancer Institute," said Van.
You can prevent charring by cutting the fat off your raw meat and poultry before grilling.
Use direct heat when grilling, and if the food does char..cut it off before eating.
If you feel the need to put away hot leftovers, here's the myth- you should never put hot food in the refrigerator.
"That's not true... it's more dangerous to forget and leave it out longer than 2 hours... so put it in shallow containers and get it into the refrigerator as quickly as possible," said Van.
Forget about the myths and keep food safety facts in mind during the summer, it will keep you and your family safe.