Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Safe Kitchen Practices

How you handle food, dishes, and cleaning aids in the kitchen can make a big difference in the safety of your kitchen. Here are some tips I picked up from the November 2011 issue of Nutrition Action Newsletter, published by CSPI, the Center for Science in the Public Interest:

- Most sponges and dish cloths are contaminated with coliform bacteria, yeast, and mold. Microwaving a wet sponge at high power for one minute eliminates most of these. (Make sure the sponge is wet to avoid setting it on fire.) Running it through the dishwasher is almost as effective. For dish cloths, use a fresh one each day.

- Wash your counters with soap and water; chemical disinfectants are not necessary for generally healthy people.

- Clean your plastic or wood cutting boards with soap and water, run small ones through the dishwasher, and replace any that have ruts so deep that food remains after cleaning.

- Dishwashers use less water than washing dishes by hand and they help prevent foodborne illnesses. As much as possible, run everything through the hot water and heat-dry cycles of the dishwasher. It also helps to rinse the dishes as soon after use as possible, to make it easier to clean the bacteria off.

- Regularly clean the inside of your dishwasher, including the rubber seals, with a disinfectant or bleach solution to remove harmful black yeast, found in 56% of the homes sampled.

- Finally, wash your hands before and after handling food. To do this effectively, scrub your hands with soap (not antibacterial soap or dish detergent) under running water for 20 seconds, rinse with clear water, and dry them with a clean towel. It’s the scrubbing with soap, not the temperature of the water, which does the trick.

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