You want to eat healthfully and feed your family well. Cooking at home renders the greatest control over what you put into those precious bodies. Being busy humans, we often cook on the fly and sometimes cut corners when maintaining the kitchen.
Cutting corners is what life is all about, as long as you’re mindful of the most important aspects of food safety. Protect yourself against being one of the 76 million cases of food-borne illness that occur in the U.S. each year; 5,000 of which result in death.
Here is a handful of food safety protection tips to be mindful of starting today:
1. Healthy Hands: It’s amazing how many people poison their loved ones at home each year. According to the American Dietetic Association, “nearly half of all cases of food-borne illness could be eliminated if people would wash their hands more often when preparing and handling food.”
Get into good habits now by keeping hand soap next to your kitchen sink. To further protect against cross contamination, use disposable latex gloves when working with meat, chicken and fish.
2. Dirty Little Secrets: Where’s the dirtiest spot in your kitchen? Depending on your habits, it may be the handle of your refrigerator, or microwave. A close second could very possibly be your kitchen sink. We may be in the habit of wiping down the counter, but think about the last time the fridge handle was cleaned?
Speedily sanitize these areas with a homemade mixture of 1 teaspoon of bleach with a quart of water. Use an old soda bottle as an easy measure. No need to rinse the solution!
3. Cutting board & bacteria: The third hazardous area of your kitchen is your cutting board. Contamination can occur when raw juices of protein come into contact with foods that will not be cooked further. The villain here is often referred to as salmonella poisoning. Ever have a 24 hr bug? Quite likely, it was a touch of sal.
The easy solution to this devastating problem is to have two cutting boards—one for raw proteins, and the additional board for all other foods.
4. Protect Your Digits: Besides being a favorite congregating spot for bacteria, a cutting board is the cause of many knife cuts… a slipping cutting board, that is.
A damp paper or cloth towel under the board will give a cushy, clingy grab between two hard places. Now practice safe knife techniques and you’re digits are safe! (add on picture of chopping)
5. Keep It Safe: Maintain your fridge temperature at 38 – 40 degrees. Once it gets warmer than 40 F- and enters the ‘danger zone‘, the propensity for foodborne illness increases exponentially.
Hang a NPF approved thermometer in the fridge. Make it your habit to check the temperature first thing in the morning- as you’re fixin’ your first cup o’ Joe. Run the fridge closer to 40 degrees in cold months, but on the lower end of 38 degrees in the summer if you or your family tends to air condition the kitchen while deciding on a snack.
*Image of “modern white pantry” via Shutterstock.