It seems that we are constantly bombarded with news that innocuous items in the food supply may pose a threat to our health: tainted eggs, tainted peanut butter, tainted tomatoes, tainted spinach – those are only the ones I remember. Our industrial-style food supply chain certainly creates risks, but what about when we get the food home? Is your kitchen a clean and healthy place for food preparation? In a story in today’s New York Times, the reporter invited a New York City restaurant inspector to check his home kitchen. In NYC, restaurants must post the grade they receive from such inspections – would you dine somewhere that received a “D” for cleanliness? After a day of cleaning, scrubbing and tossing out, the reporter only received a “C” grade. Here’s the link to the full story and below are some of the requirements of restaurants that might also be applicable to the home kitchen:
- Make sure your refrigerator is working properly and keep it on a cold setting.
- Make sure to clear the sink of dishes and pans before washing hands, and use different towels to dry hands and cookware. Have liquid soap and paper towels in your bathroom for hand-washing.
- Make sure your cutting boards don’t have nicks and grooves where bacteria can grow. If they do, you can sand or replace them. Bacteria can also thrive inside cracks in floor tiles and wood countertops.
- Don’t let food linger on countertops a long time before cooking and serving it.
- Keep pets off countertops and dining tables.
- Damp dish towels can breed bacteria. Keep them clean and dry, or use paper towels.
Oh, and having a cat costs you a lot of points – when kitty traverses her litter box and then your kitchen counter, there’s a lot of bacteria left in her path.