Fight Food-Borne Illness in the Kitchen

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Kitchen sinks are dirtier than most bathrooms. There are typically more than 500,000 bacteria per square inch in the drain alone. Counter tops, especially after preparing raw meat like chicken or pork, can have bacteria in the millions. Keeping your kitchen clean is just one of the many things you can do to make sure you are doing everything you can to follow safe food practices. Here are 5 other tips:

1. Use safe water and raw materials
Be aware of foods that are associated with food-borne illness. Raw eggs, raw meat, raw milk are all examples of food that have ties to food-borne illnesses. When in doubt, throw it out. Also make sure you ask the water company for a report on the safety of its water.

2. Clean
Wash your hands frequently with soap and hot water for 20 seconds. Wash before handling food, after handling raw food and clean surfaces that come in contact with raw or uncooked food. Rinse all raw produce before cutting, paring or eating. Clean tops of canned food before opening because of all the handling that takes place during storage and shipping.

3. Separate
Separate raw food from other items when shopping. Check raw eggs to make sure non of the eggs are broken or cracked which can spread Salmonella. Use separate cutting boards for raw meat and for vegetables. Don’t cross-contaminate. Never re-use marinades that were used with raw foods.

4. Cook
Cooking can effectively kill food-borne pathogens if cooked to the proper temperature. The only way to make sure that a food has been cooked to the proper temperature is to use a food/meat thermometer. Bring sauces, soups and gravies to a rolling boil when reheating.

5. Chill
Cold temperatures slow the growth of microbes, but do not kill-microbial food-borne pathogens. When at the store, pick up your frozen foods last. Refrigerate raw foods, leftovers, and takeout foods within 2 hours. Thaw meat, poultry, and seafood in the refrigerator or in cool water, not on the counter.

For more information, check out the safe food handling fact sheet from the United States Department of Agriculture website.