Today, more than ever, we’re all a little more self-conscious about germs. Hand sanitizer, antibacterial wipes—even UV light—have become common, popular purchases for consumers every week.
With all the suffering this winter has brought, people are cleaning their hands more regularly as part of measures to protect themselves and their families. The past few years have greatly influenced how people clean their hands to stop the spread of disease, but how does that compare to how well they clean their homes?
Even if you feel confident about your cleaning, you may be surprised to find that there’s a small—completely overlooked—spot in your kitchen, according to a November 2022 survey. And once you see what you’re missing, you can do not remove it.
One thing is for sure – you will definitely want to clean this place in the future!
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November 2022 Journal of Food Protection Examination
Almost 48 million people fall ill each year from foodborne illnesses, and one in five is caused at home. Cross-contamination, unclean dishes and improper handling of food can all contribute to some individuals getting food poisoning.
Cleaning your kitchen is essential to food safety, and according to a recent study from Journal of Food Protection were released, it is clear that a large number of people could avoid getting sick by making sure they don’t forget to clean everywhere in their kitchen.
Now you’re probably thinking, “What’s left to clean?” and you’re running down your checklist. The sinks, counters, microwave and other gadgets are often scrubbed down, so what could possibly be missing?
Related: How to deep clean your microwave in 10 minutes
What is the best part of the kitchen?
Spice jars are actually the best place in the kitchen!
As presented in a November 2022 survey from Journal of Food Protection, spice jars surprisingly hold the most bacteria in the kitchen. The study found that 48 percent of the spice jars examined had shown signs of cross-contamination, while counters showed only 20 percent.
Think about that for a moment. It makes sense.
You first grab them while handling raw meat to season it, then you might grab it again while the meat is cooking and add a little more to it before you put it back in the cabinet or in its holder.
Have you washed your hands between the first touches of handling the meat? Have you washed the spice jar between uses? Probably not.
And then the spice jar goes back into its carousel, or into the cupboard, all the while the seeds whiz by. And then you pull out the jar and use it again.
It is natural that the bacteria are just endless unless they are cleaned after each use. How incredible that such a small thing could reap such potential danger to the food you eat!
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How to practice food safety at home
Practicing food safety is essential to the health of your home and the people who live in it. You can actively keep your home in check by practicing just four techniques.
In summary, with these FDA recommendations, all you need to remember are the following steps: clean, separate, cook and cool.
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Four Best Food Safety Steps
1. Clean – Keep your food, hands, dishes and cooking tools, containers/lids (including spice jars!) clean.
- Hot soapy water is the key to keeping everything clean and hygienic in the kitchen. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, and all your tools and counters in soapy water as well.
- Refrain wash meat, poultry, fish or eggs.
- Rinse fruit and vegetables
2. Separate – Work with each food item, one at a time. Keep fruit and vegetables separate from raw meat and eggs.
- Use one cutting board for each of the groups you are cooking with.
- Also separate items in your shopping basket, bags and fridge.
3. Cook – Heat is important to kill bacteria. When food gets hot, it needs to stay hot.
Here are food-safe temperatures (a digital thermometer is helpful):
- Beef, pork, lamb – 145°
- Fish – 145°
- Minced beef, pork, lamb 160°
- Turkey, Chicken, Duck – 165°
4. Chill – When you have finished eating, put it in the fridge.
- Two hours is the rule for putting food in the fridge or freezer (this includes grocery stores).
- The warmer the temperatures outside, the less time for your food to cool. Anything over 90° cuts your time down to an hour.
You have the opportunity to reduce the number of cross-contamination in your home. The biggest takeaway here is to pay attention to every step of handling your food. Be sure to clean up everything you use while preparing your meal – including small, inconspicuous things like these spice jars! – and you will be on your way to cooking delicious food, while significantly reducing the risk of illness.
Next, this step-by-step guide shows you how to clean an oven yourself using a natural, homemade paste
- Kirchner, M., Everhart, S., Doring, L., Smits, C., Faircloth, J., Duong, M., Goulter, RM, Goodson, L., Shelley, L., Shumaker, ET, Cates, S., Bernstein, C., Lavallee, A., Jaykus, L.-A., Chapman, B., & Schaffner, D. (2022). Cross-contamination of surfaces in consumer kitchens with MS2 as a trace organism in ground turkey bread. Journal of Food Protection, 85(11), 1594-1603. https://doi.org/10.4315/jfp-22-060
- US Food and Drug Administration: “Food safety at home”