There are many actions we take in the kitchen in the name of food safety. But are these ideas fact or fiction? It is time to debunk some popular kitchen myths.

First, many consumers purchase bagged greens labeled “ready to eat,” “washed” or “triple washed.” But intuition tells us an extra rinse will not hurt anything.

Rinsing ready-to-eat food can actually increase the potential for cross-contamination. Pathogens that may be on your kitchen surfaces or your hands could find their way onto your greens in the process of handling them. Save yourself a little bit of time and just enjoy your salad with peace of mind.

Some people believe cross-contamination cannot happen in the refrigerator due to the cold temperature. However, some bacteria can survive and grow in cool, moist places. Listeria monocytogenes grows in temperatures as low as 35.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

Be sure to keep fresh fruits and vegetables separate from raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs. Clean your refrigerator regularly with hot water and soap, and clean up food and beverage spills immediately to help reduce the risk of cross-contamination in your refrigerator. Remember to clean refrigerator walls, as well as the undersides of the shelves.

Another popular belief is it is only important to wash fresh fruits and vegetables — there is no need to dry them, too. This is false.

Research has shown drying fruits and vegetables with a paper towel or clean dish cloth further reduces the level of harmful bacteria on the surface of fresh produce.

Another popular myth some people believe is there’s no need to rinse various types of melons because they don’t eat the skin. What they don’t understand is there are many ways for pathogens on the outside of a melon to contaminate the edible part. The knife or peeler passing through the rind can carry pathogens to the flesh of the melon. In addition, the rind also touches the edible part when cut fruit is arranged or stacked for serving or garnish if it hasn’t been peeled.

Play it safe and rinse the melon under running tap water and scrub lightly with a vegetable brush or your hands. Dry it with a clean cloth or paper towel.

These myths certainly sound as if they’re true, but by debunking them you’re putting your family one step ahead with food safety in the kitchen.

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