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  • Writer's pictureThe Ideal Team

Food-Borne Illness & Prevention

Making meals for your family and elderly loved ones, or clients in your care can be a challenging task, especially when considering dietary requirements, cleanliness and safety.

Here are some information and tips to help you keep a clean and healthy kitchen!

Food-Borne Illness

The kitchen can serve up more than just delicious meals; it can also serve as an area for germs and bacteria, causing food-borne illnesses.

There are three main types of foodborne illness from bacterial contamination:

  • Food Poisoning. Bacteria multiply on food and release toxins that make you ill if you eat them. Bacterial strains that cause this include Clostridium perfringens, Staphylococcus aureus, and Clostridium botulinum.

  • Food infection. Bacteria grow on food and continue to grow in your intestines after you eat them. Bacteria that can cause this include Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, and Shigella.

  • Toxin-mediated infection. Bacteria from food reproduce and release toxins in your intestinal tract after you eat them. Bacteria that can cause this include Escherichia coli (E. coli), Campylobacter jejuni, and Vibrio.


Common side effects of foodborne illness from bacterial contamination include upset stomach, loss of appetite, headache, nausea, and diarrhea. Those who are aged 60 and older are at greater risk of food-borne illness due to chronic ailments and a reduced or compromised immune system.

High-Risk Foods

Almost all foods can be at risk for contamination. However, foods that have high water, starch, or protein content provide optimal breeding grounds for bacteria and are therefore at a higher risk of causing foodborne illness. This also depends on how food is stored, its cooking temperatures, and food handling.

Keeping Bacteria Out of Your Kitchen

There are three areas in your kitchen where bacteria are likely to form or grow: sponges and rags, countertops, and cutting boards.

Sponges and rags usually stay moist throughout the day, leaving a perfect environment for bacteria. Even when the sponge dries, bacteria can live on it for at least two days. Some say, for a bacteria-free sponge, microwave your sponge for one minute. You can also microwave a cotton rag for 3 minutes to sanitize it.

Bacteria also love the small cracks and crevices on countertops and cutting boards. Cutting boards should be scrubbed with detergent and treated with bleach between uses, depending on the cutting board material. Wooden cutting boards can also be sanitized in the microwave for ten minutes on high.

Keeping Food Safe for Your Loved Ones

  • Wash hands and surfaces frequently - wash your hands immediately before and after handling raw meat or poultry and its packaging

  • Don't cross-contaminate - occurs when bacteria from one food to another transfer through contact with the same surface. Separate raw meats when storing them and try to refrain from using the same utensils or containers, platters, and cutting boards.

  • Cook foods to the proper temperature - always read recipe cooking instructions to ensure proper internal temperature.

  • Refrigerate foods promptly - refrigerate food quickly to keep bacteria from growing. Food and leftovers should be refrigerated within two hours.

By following the tips and suggestions above, you can greatly reduce your risk of food contamination. Services, such as those we provide for housecleaning and meal preparation and meal assistance, can also help to prevent illness.

Contact us today to find out more about how our trained and experienced house cleaning team can help you or your elderly loved ones!


"Improving the quality of life for our clients since 1998 while providing peace of mind to their families."

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