TEST: Do You Keep a Clean Kitchen?
I have first-hand experience with food poisoning. On a New Year’s Eve fourteen years ago, I spent the night in the Emergency Room having been poisoned by a bad piece of Sushi.
I certainly don’t want to relive that horrible experience, so I am ultracareful with any food I prepare and the areas where it’s stored, cooked, sliced, diced, washed and served. (I still love Sushi, but, believe you me, I check it out carefully before eating it. )
Each year, one in six Americans — or about 50 million people — get sick from a foodborne illness resulting in 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths, according to The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention.
One scientific study enlisted 20 volunteer families to swab 14 common kitchen items: the blender, can opener, flatware storage tray, food storage containers with rubber seals, knife block, microwave keypad, pizza cutter, spatula, strainer, and the refrigerator ice dispenser, water dispenser and meat and vegetable compartments. The researchers were looking for four types of microorganisms linked to foodborne illness: E. coli, salmonella, yeast and mold, and listeria.
The presence of these items in the kitchen is a health risk, especially for those most susceptible to foodborne illness including pregnant women, older adults and people with a weakened immune system.
What the swabs showed was an eye-opener.
Twenty-five percent of items tested contained E. coli bacteria and salmonella, 10 percent contained listeria, and yeast and mold was found on 100 percent of all 14 items.
In addition to the obvious bacteria laden things like sponges and dish rags, in no particular order, the other six “germiest” items in the kitchen were the refrigerator vegetable and meat compartments, blender gasket, can opener, rubber spatula and rubber-sealed food storage container.
These items come in direct contact with food, especially raw produce, meats and ready-to-eat meals, potentially making friends and family sick.
That’s why it is necessary to properly clean all of these kitchen items. For example, many people may not realize they need to disassemble the entire blender, removing the gasket and the rubber seal before cleaning. That’s where a lot of the bacteria was found. And it’s not enough just to clean the sink after use; we have to take care of drains, faucets and handles, too.
- Wash reusable grocery bags.
- Disinfect all countertops.
- Use separate cutting boards for raw meat/poultry/seafood and vegetables/salad greens, and wash them thoroughly after each use, sanitizing them with a mixture of a tablespoon of unscented liquid bleach per gallon of water, then rinse with clean water and let them air dry.
- Refrigerate food right away.
- Clean drains, faucet handles, and sponges with products that are fortified with bleach—a powerful bacteria killer.
- Avoid using kitchen counters as temporary resting places for “foreign” items, like handbags, boxes, mail, magazines, newspapers, or, heaven forbid, shoes.
Here’s to healthy, bacteria free dining!
…and many more.