For those who've spent hours studying the recently discovered, yet unidentifiable leftovers hiding in the back of the fridge, here's some advice to keep you from spending days in the bathroom.
10. It's OK to eat boxed pizza out of the garbage.
As Jerry Seinfeld so eloquently stated, food "adjacent to refuse is refuse." But those willing to cross the line that "divides man and bum" should keep in mind that leftover pizza which wasn't refrigerated within two hours of being served is no longer safe for breakfast or a drunken snack. Of course, if you heed this advice when you're totally wasted, then you are clearly a master of self-preservation on top of being a master of your domain.
9. Moldy food can be salvaged.
Not only does mold have long, thin roots that are very difficult to see, but mold is often an indicator that food has been stricken with other invisible forms of bacteria and spores. Therefore, moldy food should be tossed out. Firm fruits and cheeses are the exceptions to this rule. They can be safely liberated by cutting at least an inch beyond the affected area. If you're the vindictive type, go ahead and eat the salvaged food in front of the mold. It will feel as though you are taunting it.
8. You should never buy food past its sell date.
Since food isn't always consumed right after it's purchased, sell-by dates allow for a grace period of a few days. This means that buying food a couple days after the pull date shouldn't pose any health or quality risks as long as it is consumed that day. In any case, it's always better to go with the freshest option, rather than creating your own dietary-themed episode of "24."
7. The five-second rule
Popular lore has it that a piece of food dropped on the floor can be safely eaten as long as it is picked up within five seconds. In reality, it can take as little as a nanosecond for nasty bacteria to attach to a fumbled snack. And no, announcing "five-second rule" doesn't change that equation. It just makes you annoying.
6. Frozen turkey can be thawed on the counter.
Defrosting poultry on the countertop is always a big no-no, unless you like the diarrhea, fever, headache, nausea and the intense vomiting associated with salmonella poisoning. Instead, thaw that frozen bird out in the fridge or immerse it in water kept below 40 degrees. For a full-sized Thanksgiving turkey, this process can take days. Plan accordingly. For instance, plan to make a ham instead.
5. Don't swim for at least a half-hour after eating.
Here's another myth that doesn't, er, hold water. While your mother led you to believe that digestion diverts blood flow and oxygen from the limbs to the stomach -- increasing the likelihood of cramping up and potentially drowning -- today's accredited experts agree that the body holds more than enough oxygen to service both the stomach and the skeletal muscles. So feel free to hit the snack bar right before diving in. Even better, splash your mom with a cannonball while diving in. She deserves it for being a beacon of misinformation.
4. Hamburger meat shouldn't be brown on the inside.
The reddish hue associated with freshly ground red meat is called "bloom," and is the result of a chemical reaction between the meat and oxygen. If the inside portion of ground meat is darker, it's due to a lack of oxygen exposure and poses no health or freshness risks. Just watch out for that pesky Hamburglar. We hear he even likes 'em raw.
3. Meat soaked in alcohol can be left marinating outside of the fridge.
Alcohol can do many great things, from erasing a lousy week at work to providing the courage to approach that cute girl. Just don't depend on it as a meat sanitizer. A booze-based marinade will be diluted by the meat's juices and has no real effect on microbes that grow at room temperature. So remember, it is always best to marinate meat in the fridge. We also highly recommend marinating meat with alcohol in your stomach.
2. Seafood is more likely than other meats to cause sickness.
According to a recent FDA study, you are 10 times more likely to get food poisoning from a portion of poultry than from seafood. That doesn't mean that seafood is always a safe bet. If you're at a fish market and the merch smells really fishy, throw it back. Finding the right Nemo for dinner shouldn't stink.
1. Gum remains in the stomach for seven years.
This old wives' tale has been frightening kids for generations. While it's true that the human body is incapable of digesting chewing gum, that just means it stays relatively intact as it passes harmlessly through the digestive system. So keep the undersides of desks pristine and swallow that juicy wad. Wait, that doesn't sound right. On second thought, go ahead and find the nearest table.