Are you food safety savvy?

That’s what dietician and TV personality Leslie Beck asked yesterday in the Toronto Globe and Mail as she posed a pre-Canadian-Thanksgiving food safety quiz.

Leslie (right) didn’t do so good — and she’s the alleged teacher with the answer book.

That’s because she went to the Coles Notes version — the Canadian Partnership for Consumer Food Safety Education – for her answers instead of doing some digging.

“While food processing has been blamed for many of these (foodborne) outbreaks, the fact remains that the majority of food-safety problems occur at home. It is estimated that Canada has as many as 13 million cases of food poisoning every year, most of which could be prevented by safer handling of food at home.”

With at least 20 people dead from listeria in cold cuts in Canada, such a statement is not only factually inaccurate, it is condescendingly harsh.

“Fresh produce must always be washed – true or false?
Answer: True
Fresh fruit and vegetables should never be consumed without being washed under clean, running water – even prebagged, prewashed produce.”

Chirstine Bruhn, UC Davis, do you have something to add on this? Last I saw, scientists were saying don’t rewash the pre-washed greens for fear of contaminating clean product. Food safety is not simple and there are lots of disagreements – which is why these laundry lists of do’s and don’t’s, are fairly useless. People are interested in this stuff, give them some data, some information, some context, not just questionable marching orders.

“What temperature does your stuffed Thanksgiving turkey need to reach before it is safe to eat?
Answer: d) 82 C (180 F)
Use a digital meat thermometer and cook your turkey until the temperature at the thickest part of the breast or thigh is at least 82 C (180 F)."

No idea where this comes from, because Health Canada won’t let mere mortals peek at the wizard behind the green curtain who makes such pronouncements (watch the video below for how Health Canada derives at consumer recommendations for things like cooking temperatures). The recommended internal temperature in the U.S. is 165F. You can read how that number was determined at

Both are better than the U.K.’s, “piping hot.”

“What is the safest way to thaw your Thanksgiving turkey?
Answer: d) In the fridge
 Never defrost a turkey at room temperature.”

Yes you can, and I will be this weekend. Check out Pete Snyder’s comments and our own work in this area.

We’ll be videotaping the turkey preparation for our annual Canadian-expat-in-Manhattan (Kansas) Thanksgiving feast on Monday.