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Website helps answer questions about food safety

Wed., Dec. 22, 2010, midnight

Somewhere along the path toward food safety, we often make a detour toward obsession. An obsession that compels us to throw out food before we really have to. And that, in turn, costs us money.

Before we blame ourselves, let’s not forget that the habit is enabled by all those “Use By” and “Sell By” and “God Forbid You Eat This AFTER” package label dates, not to mention recent headlines of good food gone bad.

The challenge: How to be a food-savvy cheapskate versus a food-sickened cheapskate. A new Web site wants to help. delivers bushels of articles on the topic: how to store food, save food, clean food, freeze food and, yes, clarification of those dates on packaged and fresh foods.

The brainchild of retired professor Ethel Tiersky and her son, Howard, the site also features links to lots of Web sites, and it has a board of advisers of food-safety pros from across the U.S. A recent lead article was titled, “Soft Cheese: A Delicious Delicacy or a Menace?”

And, as you might imagine, there’s plenty here about eggs. We love the quiz testing your knowledge of food safety.

Much of the advice is offered in tones of gray, not black and white. That’s as it should be. When experts differ on a topic, both sides are given their say.

Now, I would be remiss not to add my final two cents – because no amount of money can be worth getting food poisoning. Food writers routinely receive calls from home cooks who have, say, left meat on the counter overnight and want us to tell them it is OK to eat.

It’s not OK.

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