Keeping a clean kitchen means having a healthy kitchen and a healthy kitchen is one that doesn’t get you sick from cooking in it. It is one of the simplest things to do but it is also one of the things that is overlooked, failing to keep a clean kitchen can result in contamination of food, leading to illness. This can be prevented, and while sometimes it can be as simple as a little bit of cleaning spray and a wipe down, sometimes it can be a little bit more complicated than that.
Cross contamination is probably the biggest cause of foodborne illness in restaurants and kitchens worldwide. Cross contamination occurs when one food item comes into indirect contact with another food item. An example of this would be someone slicing raw chicken on a cutting board that then puts the chicken away and begins cutting lettuce on the same board with the same knife. Bacteria from the chicken has now come into contact with the lettuce from the board and the knife. If this lettuce is then served raw and uncooked in a salad there is the potential for foodborne illness.
Clean your dishes, utensils,cookware, and other tools whenever you change from preparing one type of food to another. Make sure to clean your surfaces as well, in case anything left your prep area. After you’ve taken care of all of that, don’t forget to wash your hands as well.
Not eggs-actly safe
This was a surprise to me when I learned about it, eggs are havens of bacteria. Sure, we all know that eating a raw egg is not recommended unless you’re training for a title-fight with Apollo Creed, but egg shells themselves can be coated in bacteria such as salmonella. After handling raw eggs or after cracking those shells give your hands the classic soap and water treatment.
Remember that eggs sit in a carton with other eggs, and while the technology behind pasteurizing food is more effective, bacteria can still slip through the cracks. When you’re buying the eggs from a store check the expiration date and check for cracks. A cracked egg could contain salmonella.
Staying out with bacteria
Do you leave cooked food out on the counter, uncovered, and return for a second of helping of your lunch several hours later? The FDA guidelines for food left out at room temperature recommends throwing it out if it has been out longer than six hours. These are guidelines for restaurants but there is no reason you can’t have the same rule. That batch of fish sticks you made last night and left on the counter, probably not the smartest thing to eat for breakfast the next day.
Sponges and dish towels are other havens for disease and both are something that often remain stored at room temperature exposed in your kitchen. Wash your dishtowels frequently and sterilize your sponges and replace them frequently. You can run a sponge through a dishwasher or microwave it for an hour to help control bacterial growth, and remember to change it out every two weeks to a month, depending on how often you use it.
Did you finish your dinner to find you still had a big steaming pot of food leftover? Don’t wrap it up and shove it in the fridge immediately. Food needs to cool before it is stored in a refrigerated environment. When you slap plastic wrap over a hot bowl of stew and stick it in the fridge you’re creating an ideal environment for bacterial growth. Let the food cool down before sticking it into a refrigerator, you can even use a technique that restaurants use called an ice bath. Food is submerged in ice water to cool it down before it is sealed and stored for later use.
Remember, your kitchen can easily become a great environment for bacteria to set up homes and live rent free under your roof. With a little attention to the details though, you can keep your kitchen clean, and your food healthy!
CassieCorbett is a freelance writer and nutritionist with the dinnerware supplier World Kitchen. Cassie loves working with other people that share a love of all things food and is currently in pursuit of the perfect meatball recipe.