One of the biggest concerns about cleanliness in the kitchen is foodborne illness due to spoilage or cross-contamination. You know about safety precautions like using different cutting boards for meat and vegetables, always washing your hands after handling raw meats and cleaning the sink and countertops regularly. These are just the basics.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that every year, there are about 76 million cases of food borne illness in the United States. This is contamination from all sources, including food manufacturing, but that figure is still shocking.
Some of the biggest culprits introduced in food are: Salmonella, Campylobacter, pathogenic E coli and Listeria. There are others that can be transmitted to food from unwitting human carriers and then distributed to others in the household. They include: hepatitis A virus, Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella, Shigella sonnei and rotavirus. Although foodborne illnesses are much more likely to present severe health risks to young children, older adults and those who are already ill, even a mild case of food poisoning is an experience to avoid.
Here are a few chores to consider adding to your kitchen routine to reduce the risk of foodborne illness:
- Always wash your hands before and after handling perishable foods.
- Wash cutting boards in hot, soapy water every time you use them. Discard cutting boards with deep scoring or gouges.
- Wash your hands after touching your nose, mouth or eyes.
- Wash your hands after handling raw meat or eggs.
- Keep household cleaners away from food prep areas.
- Don't forget to clean all the gadgets you use for food prep like: meat thermometers, measuring cups, measuring spoons, can openers, sieves, colanders, blenders, wooden spoons, cookie sheets and spoon rests. If it touches perishable foods, it should be cleaned.
- Dispose of spoiled food promptly. Never keep leftovers in your refrigerator longer than four days.
- Refrigerate perishable foods after no more than two hours at room temperature.
- If a food item looks or smells off in any way, pitch it.