Keeping your kitchen clean
News reports of health inspections in restaurant kitchens can be enough to discourage would-be diners, yet home kitchens also can provide a welcoming environment for germs and foodborne microorganisms.
A clean kitchen can prevent foodborne and other illnesses such as the common cold or flu; and, there's more good news: "Keeping a kitchen clean need not be difficult," said Valentina Remig, a food safety and nutrition specialist and former faculty member at Kansas State University who developed a USDA-funded food safety campaign for baby boomers.
To begin, Remig recommends making a homemade sanitizing solution by adding one tablespoon of household bleach to one gallon of water; transfer the solution to a spray bottle for use as needed, and, as with other cleaning products, label the sanitizing solution and keep it out of reach for children and pets.
"Use the sanitizing solution on countertops and other surfaces that come in contact with food before and after food preparation," she said.
"Hot soapy water and a clean rinse also will work," said Remig, who advised sanitizing cupboard handles, knobs and drawer pulls; refrigerator and range handles, controls and keypads on appliances; faucets, and the kitchen telephone.
"Clean as you go," said the food safety pro, whose tips include:
--Wipe up spills as they occur.
--Dedicate one cutting board for meats and poultry, and another for vegetables; sanitize cutting boards after each use, and replace when boards become worn. Cuts and grooves can harbor bacteria.
--Change dishcloths daily; choose re-usable dishcloths that can be laundered in hot water, or disposable cloths.
--Change and sanitize scrubbers and sponges--or replace--often.
--Consult appliance manufacturer's instructions, and clean refrigerator and freezer thoroughly by removing shelves and bins at least every three months; defrost ice build-up as needed.