TODAY   |  March 05, 2014

Smelly, sticky or slimy? Don’t eat it

Food expert Alton Brown joins TODAY to chat about trusting your gut when it comes to food safety habits.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> well, have you ever pulled meat or cheese out of the fridge and thought that doesn't look so great?

>> well, each year 1 in 6 americans get sick from contaminated food . and if you've ever had it happen, you don't want that to happen again. follow a few good safety habits. our good friend, host of food network cut throat kitchen is here to help us along. all right, sir.

>> all right.

>> you say three things you want to make sure.

>> we all have the senses necessary to know when food has gone bad. smell it. if it smells bad, odds are you shouldn't eat it. touch it, if it feels slimy, don't eat it. if it's got splotches of green on it, don't eat that.

>> why do we have the thing where we go, try this.

>> yeah.

>> why do we want to share it? we want confirmation. i'm not going to -- now i'm not going to poison you.

>> we're going to start with the refrigerator here.

>> absolutely. incredibly important. keeping things cold, down below 40 degrees fahrenheit is the best way to stop bacteria. i don't trust any refrigerator on earth, which is why i have a thermometer. keep it in the top, the warmest part of the refrigerator, keep it under 38 degrees. just because the refridge egerator says it's cold, don't trust it. other things, make sure you've stacked it so you're keeping foods that could be dangerous away from others.

>> okay.

>> you like to keep meat all the way --

>> all the way in the bottom. there's a couple of reasons for that. number one, you're containing it so that if anything drips, it's not going to drip on the foods you can eat raw. the other thing, it's colder in the bottom, the colder, it's going to be viable longer.

>> you have that and all that.

>> i don't mind doing that. i don't mind mixing that. those are all things.

>> you say you have to be careful with refrigerated meat because that could mask some of the smell issues?

>> here's the thing. like i was saying about smelling, if you're going to unwrap meat and smell it right away, sometimes it'll smell funky even though it's okay. i unwrap, leave it in for half an hour. if i'm suspicious.

>> above the meat, what do we do?

>> above the meat, everything that could be considered. by the way, meat and eggs, technically we should keep our eggs down here, as well.

>> i've been keeping it in the door.

>> things that are read to eat or vegetables, things you're not going to have to worry that much about food borne illness . and here's a thing i do, i leave vegetables in the bags i shop them in because of respiration, the water that comes out of them. put a paper towel in the bag, it'll last longer that way.

>> and you say don't rinse them.

>> i don't wash them until right before i eat them. that's just me.

>> counter here.

>> this is a good idea, fish breaks down quicker than any other meat. i keep it on ice. even in the refrigerator. bottom of the refrigerator on ice. and i've got two containers, one has holes in it so the ice can drain out.

>> meat when it thaws gives up a lot of juice. i move all of mine to plastic resealable containers. so i don't have to worry about cross contamination .

>> quick thaw, i do move the food to zip top bag, move it to a bowl, and in the sink, a little bit of running water . that is important.

>> cold water ?

>> let it run a little bit. and if the food floats because it's frozen, i use a piece of chain to way it down.

>> okay.

>> things are clean.

>> in the sink.

>> sanitation is really important on countertops. i make my own sanitizing solution. 1/4 teaspoon of bleach. powerful stuff to 10 ounces of water. 8 ounces of water. spritz that on a clean surface, let it sit for one minute, wipe it up, you know it's sanitary.

>> all right.

>> this is all vegetables i would wash, fruits i would wash under flowing water. cold, flowing water. you would be shocked how much is removed. just by washing.

>> they grow in the dirt.

>> yeah.

>> this is potentially dangerous stuff. any fruit or vegetable that has a texture on it should be scrubbed under cold, running water .

>> like potato gloves --

>> no. i cannot imagine owning potato gloves.

>> she also has avocado mittens.

>> no, you scrub them clean.

>> anything that's going to get cut with a knife has a texture like this, wash and scrub or use your potato glove.

>> i suggested there were a lot of other things you would buy before that like the avocado mitten or a special eggplant peeler.

>> there you go.

>> alton brown , thank you so much. always good to see you.