Reduce the spread of bacteria in your kitchen

Use cutting boards that have been properly cleaned and sanitized to reduce the spread of bacteria to your food.

A foodborne illness can be caused by cross-contamination. Cross-contamination is defined as “the process by which bacteria or other microorganisms are unintentionally transferred from one substance or object to another, with harmful effect.”

The Partnership for Food Safety Education examined consumer behavior through studies and surveys and found that potential cross-contamination occurred in 74 percent of households. Problems were found in how raw meat was handled. The survey discovered that many consumers reported that they did not have a cutting board and they cut meat directly on the counter top. This is especially a problem with the bacteria found in raw meat, such as Salmonella Typhimurium. Chicken and eggs can carry the Salmonella Typhimurium bacteria, which can be transferred to food almost immediately upon contact and can survive for up to four weeks on dry surfaces.

If meat is cut on the counter top and the surface is not sanitized after, the bacteria can survive and continue to spread by being transferred to hands, other food or any item that comes in contact with the surface.

Michigan State University Extension recommends the following practices to reduce the spread of bacteria through cross-contamination.

  • Always wash hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food.
  • Always start with a clean work area. Wash and sanitize work surfaces, including cutting boards. Use a sanitizing solution that consists of one-quarter to one-half teaspoon of extra strength bleach to every one quart of water. Mix in a spray bottle and spray on surfaces, allowing the surface to air dry before using.
  • Have two cutting boards in your kitchen and use one for meat and the other for fresh produce. Remember to wash and sanitize them after using.
  • Separate raw meat from other foods in your grocery shopping cart, shopping bags and in your refrigerator. To prevent juices from raw meat, poultry or seafood from dripping onto other foods in the refrigerator, place these raw foods in sealed containers or plastic bags on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator.
  • If you are marinating meats, poultry or seafood, do not use the marinade on the cooked food unless it is boiled first to kill any bacteria. Another option is to use fresh marinade that has not been in contact with the raw meat.

Following these suggestions will help reduce your chances of spreading bacteria and cross-contaminating the foods that are being prepared in your kitchen.

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