In my last blog, we celebrated World Food Safety Day (June 07) and listed out the four food safety practices: CLEAN, SEPARATE, COOK, and CHILL. This blog will focus on keeping things CLEAN, and some everyday habits that you can incorporate into your clean kitchen routine.
The first step in preventing a foodborne illness (and the spread of flu) is washing. Your hands, of course. But, also kitchen surfaces, utensils and equipment. Never underestimate the value of proper handwashing. Bacteria live and multiply on our warm, moist hands, which can spread germs from surface to surface. Remember to use warm, soapy water and lather for at least 20 seconds.
Here are 12 CLEAN kitchen tips:
- If you have a cut or open sore on your hands, wear latex gloves to handle food.
- Open containers of food and food bags with clean scissors.
- Cover your cough and sneezes into your upper arm or elbow and not into your hands.
- Never place grocery bags onto your kitchen counter. Bags kept in the trunk of our cars, or on the car floor will spread bacteria.
- Before food preparation, clean your countertops. Use hot, soapy water and a clean cloth or paper towels. Avoid using sponges, as they can harbor bacteria.
- Don’t use your kitchen countertops as a landing place for books, magazines, purses or even cell phones. Designate another accessible surface for these items.
- Sanitize your countertops with a solution of 1 tablespoon (or, 3 teaspoons) of unscented liquid chlorine bleach to 1 gallon of water.
- Use utensils that have been washed in the dishwasher or in soapy, hot soapy water (at least 140 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Change dish towels and cloths daily, and use a separate towel for hand drying and dish drying. I like using solid-color towels for hands and patterned towels for dish drying.
- Clean sponges on a daily basis. Use the dishwasher and keep them in during the drying cycle, or microwave damp sponges for about one minute. But, replace your sponges frequently even if you clean them regularly.
- Don’t forget to clean your sink. An easy way to sanitize is to use a cleaner. You might think soap and water is enough, but grease and residue can build up over time. Another easy way to sanitize is to fill your sink with about a gallon of water and add in a tablespoon of unscented bleach. You can dip your sponge into the water and wipe off the sides of the sink as well as the handles and faucet. Don’t forget the dish drainer. Finish by draining the water and rinsing the sink.
- Finally, don’t forget to keep your appliances clean. Wipe up spills and messes immediately from your refrigerator, stove, microwave and other kitchen appliances.
Try to incorporate these tips into your daily food preparation. And, let others in your home know how to handle bringing groceries in and handwashing expectations. Keeping a kitchen clean is everyone’s responsibility, and everyone who’s a part of your home needs to know the food safety practices and their importance. Food safety is everyone’s business.
Our next blog post in this series will talk about preventing cross-contamination.