Every so often we like to shed a little light on matters related to our health and safety that have nothing to do with than water quality or water quality testing… and today we’d like to call attention to some things we can all do to help keep a kitchen safer and at the reduce the risk of food contamination.
After all… Starting a meal in a clean kitchen makes more sense than starting one in a dirty one, right?
- Keep Your Hands Clean at All Times — This point should go without saying, but all too often people will get caught up in the moment of rushing to get a meal prepared an forget to properly cleanse their hands between cooking steps — especially between steps involving the handling of raw meat(s).
Make sure you get between the fingers, under the nails, a little bit up the arms, etc. Warm, soapy water for about 20 to 30 seconds may slow down your food prep time, yes, but it will go a long way toward keeping your foods contaminant free! A Food hygiene course will apprise you more on how to keep food fresh for a long time.
Also, keep a fresh, clean towel available for drying your hands and do not use it for any other purpose.
- Keep Work Surfaces Free, Clean and Clear — Make sure food prep surfaces get cleaned often and with hot, soapy water — especially after activities involving raw foods or if something spills accidentally.
Remove all non-essential items (i.e. yesterday’s mail, newspapers, pocketbooks, keys, pruning shears, kids’ toys, etc.) from the work area.
- Remember to Clean the Handles — While preparing a meal you will touch things like drawer handles, drawers, refrigerator/freezer handles, stove knobs, etc. so clean those, as well.
- Do the Dishes Right Away — Dishes left sitting overnight (or for longer… ahem. You know who you are.) serve as breeding grounds for all sort of bacteria. As soon as possible, wash all utensils, dishes, pots, pans, etc. in hot, soapy water and do not forget to rinse off residual soap bubbles which may hold unwanted bacteria.
- No Spaces for Bacteria to Hide — Chips in plates, cups and china as well as deep cuts or nicks in cutting boards work well as hiding spots for bacteria… since surface cleaning cannot reach into the marks or chips.
- Dishcloths and Sponges Do Not Last Forever — And they certainly do not stay clean forever, either! Swap out for new, clean dishcloths regularly. Sames goes for kitchen sponges. Both, after use, sit in a damp condition… perfect for the growth of bacteria.
Regular hot cycle washing of dishcloths and kitchen towels and bleach water-cleaning of sponges helps to keep bacteria at bay
- Wipe Out Spills and Splatters — Clean up spills and food/grease splatters immediately using hot, soapy water. The same goes for any accidental spills or food smears on and/or in the refrigerator or freezer.
Covering foods (loosely w/ a paper towel or napkin) when heated in microwaves greatly reduces the number of splatters that occur, but inevitably some do escape… and should get cleaned up right away using hot, soapy water.
If done right, proper cooking techniques coupled with adequate food safety precautions can make everyone happy!