Saturday, September 12, 2015

Your Kitchen: Germ Central

PHOTO: nine.mackaynlpsolutions.com
Your kitchen is the heart of your home-the place where everyone gathers during a party. The place where you prepare meals, do homework, solve problems, laugh and sometimes cry.

But did you know that your kitchen is also a germ hot spot?

Yes. YOUR kitchen!

Your sink, stove, faucets, microwave, coffee maker, counter tops and even the refrigerator are perfect breeding grounds for bacteria. In fact, your kitchen has more places for germs to grow than your bathroom. Pathogenic organisms such as E. Coli, Listeria, Salmonella, yeast and mold have the power to make you, your family and your guests ill if you don't look in the right places and stay on top of it.

Here are the 6 areas you should start with:

  • Your Hands: OK. Technically not a part of the kitchen, but the single most important thing you can do to minimize risk of a food borne illness is wash your hands before, after and as you are preparing food! In the restaurant industry, 89% of the cases where food was contaminated was due to improper or non-existent hand washing by food workers. It only takes a minute-so just do it!
  • Your Cutting Boards: in a study done by the National Sanitation Organization, almost 20% of the cutting boards tested had coliform bacteria on their surfaces. (The presence of E.Coli indicates fecal contamination.) To eliminate this threat, experts recommend using separate cutting boards-one for produce and another for meat and poultry. Wash boards immediately after use, in HOT soapy water. (As an extra safety measure, I wash or toss my dish sponge after washing the boards, and then place boards in the dishwasher after hand-washing.)
  • Your Dish Sponges: According to a NSF study, about 3/4 of all kitchen sponges and dishcloths also contained coliform bacteria. Experts suggest placing sponges in microwave on High for about 30 seconds, and replacing dish cloths daily. Laundering dishcloths in hot water and bleach will kill bacteria, but be sure they are completely dry (on clothesline or dryer) before folding and placing back in drawer. 
  • Your Counter tops: About 1/3 of counter tops harbor E.Coli, Salmonella, mold and yeast. If you wipe your counters down with a 3 day old sponge or cloth that has not been sanitized or washed, you are spreading germs rather than eliminating them. Disposable wipes with bleach are the best bet for sanitizing your counter tops before and after use.
  • Your Sink: About half of the sinks tested in the NSF study were contaminated. Be sure to sanitize and dry your sink daily, and after rinsing off poultry or red meat. If you happen to drop any food in the sink, toss it to be on the safe side.
  • Your Can opener: Salmonella,Yeast and Mold will grow rapidly on the blade, which comes in direct contact with food. Place in dishwasher and inspect before placing back in drawer to be sure there is no residual moisture and that all food particles have been removed from the back of the cutting blade.
Other areas to watch include:

Kitchen Towels-use one for dishes and one for hands
Dish Drying Rack - opt for an absorbent towel or a washable drying mat. Be sure to replace and launder the mat daily, and allow counter top to dry completely between dish-washing.
Dishwasher- remove and clean debris (monthly) from filter,then pour one cup of white vinegar into the dishwasher and run on "Heavy" cycle. When finished, pour 1/2 cup baking soda in bottom & leave it until you run the next dish load.
Refrigerator Drawers- Store produce above meats, and wipe/sanitize spills and rotting fruit/vegetable residue immediately
Food Processors, Mixers & Blenders - be sure to disassemble completely and wash ALL parts-including rubber gaskets-and allow to dry before re-assembling and putting away. 
Food storage Containers: wash and dry thoroughly, especially grooves and gaskets, to prevent yeast and mold growth and rapid food spoilage.
Coffee Pot: remove used filters immediately, and wash water reservoir according to manufacturer's instructions. A Good cleaning with white vinegar will remove internal residue. 

If you currently have a housekeeper, be sure that they are following proper cleaning guidelines in your kitchen, and are NOT using the same cloths and sponges used for cleaning the bathroom and the other areas of your home.

To schedule a complimentary consultation with one of our expert housekeepers, contact Barbara at 215-257-3193 or visit www.eclecticdomestics.com



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