The kitchen should be one of the cleanest places in your home. After all, all the food you prepare that your family eats is here. It’s also where a food-borne illness can start as well -- if you’re not careful. Fortunately, you can prevent that. Here are five ways to do just that:
#1 Clean as you go Here are the key things you need to remember:
Wash your hands before, after, and often while handling food.
Cover wounds and cuts to prevent contamination as well as infection.
Wipe down, wash and sanitize surfaces and equipment used for food preparation.
Keep pests out.
#2 Don’t just clean -- sanitize and do it regularly Sure, you’ve cleaned up, but how clean is it? To disinfect kitchen surfaces and food prep equipment properly, spray over it with a kitchen sanitizing solution or make your own.
For a DIY version, mix 1 teaspoon chlorine bleach (yes, it’s safe for food!) for every 4 cups water. Pour into a spray bottle and spray it everywhere: the kitchen counter, the blender, the cutting boards (especially these!), and even the wall around your stove and the sink. Then leave to sit for at least 1 minute.
Gone organic? Heat up hydrogen peroxide or white vinegar, and use it undiluted as your sanitizing solution. Let sit for at least 10 minutes.
#3 Use separate cutting boards Prevent cross contamination, and use one designated specifically for chicken, one for raw meats, one for cooked meats, and another one for fruits, vegetables. Chefs have more than that, and use color-coded cutting boards for each type of food they handle for food safety reasons. Here's a sample:
yellow = raw poultry (chicken, turkey, etc.)
blue = raw fish and seafood
green = fruits and vegetables
red = raw meats (beef, pork, etc.)
white (sometimes brown) = cooked meats, general purpose
#4 Cook meat properly Food safety standards state that the temperature danger zone is from 40ºF (6ºC) to 140ºF (60ºC), so most meats are best cooked until its internal temperature reaches at least 145ºF with the exception of poultry (chicken, turkey, etc) whose internal temperature needs to reach at least 165ºF to kill off bacteria like salmonella. So use a meat thermometer to get the most accurate reading as well as perfectly cooked meat every time.
#5 Keep food at safe temperatures This means reheating food that has been left at room temperature for more than four hours to safe temperatures again, keeping cold dishes and other perishables in the refrigerator (at or below 4ËšC/40ËšF), and thawing frozen food in the refrigerator, not on the kitchen counter.