What is your kitchen pet peeve?

Some dos and don’ts of food safety will keep you from getting sick!

With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, the kitchen is bound to become full of people wanting to help. When you add a little bit of holiday stress and forgetfulness, good food safety practices go out the window.

Here are some dos and don’ts to remember recommended by Michigan State University Extension:

Do:

  • Wash hands frequently. Germs and illnesses are spread easily when hands are not washed. In reality there are the “10 dirties utensils” in the kitchen. Wash hands at least 20 seconds with warm, soapy water and encourage your guests to do the same.
  • Clean kitchen utensils with soap and water after each use. Research has shown that Salmonella, E. coli, yeast and mold love to hide in common kitchen appliances like blenders and spatulas. Disassemble appliances and carefully wash with hot soapy water, rinse, sanitize and air dry.
  • Allow kitchen appliances to dry thoroughly before putting them away. Dark, moist places are excellent breeding grounds for bacteria. After washing, rinsing and sanitizing equipment be sure to allow it to air dry.
  • Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Do not let perishable food sit at room temperature for more than two hours. Hot foods need to be kept in slow cookers or chafing dishes where the temperature is above 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Cold foods need to be kept cold. Dishes need to be nested in ice beds so the temperature is below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Use disposable paper towel to wipe hands dry. To avoid cross-contamination, use disposable paper towels, so the hands are not contaminating the dish towel that is used on the dishes.

Don’ts – pet peeves:

  • Do not double dip with either fingers or utensils. Double dipping can spread germs to entire parties of guests. Just because you are cooking something warm, does not mean that the food is hot enough to kill foodborne illness bacteria. Use a new, clean utensil each time you want to taste a dish you are cooking.
  • Do not cross-contaminate with a dirty cutting board. Wash, rinse and sanitize the cutting board between raw meats, eggs, seafood, poultry and ready to eat foods. Using color-coded cutting boards will help cut down on cross-contamination.
  • Do not leave the dishcloth or kitchen sponge in the sink. Research has shown that 75 percent of the dishcloths and sponges tested contained coliform or fecal bacteria. One way to remedy this problem is to take a clean, dry dishcloth or sponge each time it is needed. Another was it to put the dishcloths and sponges in a disinfecting solution before drying them.
  • Do not wash chicken or turkey in the sink. Washing chicken can allow bacteria to splash up on countertops, dishes, other foods – and you. Cooking poultry to 165 degrees Fahrenheit is the only way to kill Salmonella.
  • Do not cook while you are sick. Coughing and sneezing will spread the virus to the food increasing the chances that your guest will get sick. To avoid spreading the germs, have someone else prepare the food, a healthy family member, friend or caterer.

During the holiday season try to slow down in the kitchen so you do not make some of the mistakes like these listed pet peeves. Next time you are helping in the kitchen, see if you can spot some of these kitchen pet peeves, and try not to be guilty of some of these food safety don’ts yourself.

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