Time to brush up on your food safety know how!
Here is step 1 of the food safety basics: Keep it Clean!
Bacteria are everywhere and while most are not harmful to human health (some are even beneficial), there are those that can make you sick. Illness-causing bacteria can survive and thrive on hands, utensils, cutting boards and countertops. Washing frequently will prevent cross-contamination and ensure that bacteria don’t spread.
- Wash your hands before eating or handling food and after handling raw meat or uncooked eggs. If you stop to pet the cat, take out the garbage, go to the bathroom or blow your nose, wash your hands again. Use soap and lather for at least 20 seconds. Watch hand washing video from World Health Organization>
- Sanitize countertops, utensils, dishes and cutting boards before and after preparing food. Use a kitchen sanitizer (as directed) or a bleach solution (1 tsp/5 mL, bleach to 3 cups/750 mL of water). Rinse all items carefully with water.
- Separate your cutting boards. Use one board for produce and another for raw meat, poultry, fish and seafood.
- Plates, cutting boards or utensils used to handle raw food should be washed thoroughly with soap before reuse.
- Use paper towels to wipe kitchen surfaces. Otherwise, change dishcloths daily to avoid the risk of cross-contamination and the spread of bacteria.
- Avoid sponges because they are harder to keep bacteria free.
- Don’t forget to wash the food thermometer too.
- Wash reusable grocery bags frequently, especially if any raw meat, poultry or seafood leaks or an egg breaks.
- Wash fruit and vegetables but not eggs or meat. Even if you plan to peel fruits and vegetables, it is important to wash them so that bacteria will not spread from the outside to the inside of the fruit. You don’t need to use fancy produce washes. Simply rinse with running water.
- For fruits like melons or vegetables like carrots that have rough skins, scrub with a produce brush. It is safer not to wash meats and poultry because this process can easily spread bacteria to your sink and onto countertops.