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Food Safety in the Kitchen

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.

The 5 most common bacteria that cause food-borne illness are:

  1. Salmonella - Considered the most common food-borne illness. Its symptoms include nausea, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, fever and headache. Salmonella is typically found in poultry, red meats, eggs, and milk.

  2. Staphylococcus Aureus - This illness causes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration. The bacteria is commonly found in ham, reheated foods, dairy products, and other high-protein foods.

  3. Clostridium Perfringens - Typically grown in cooked meat, poultry and gravy, this bacteria can cause abdominal pain and diarrhea.

  4. Clostridium Botulinum - Known to cause botulism, one of the deadliest types of food-borne illness. Symptoms include dizziness, double vision and difficulty swallowing and breathing. Most often found in improperly processes canned goods.

  5. E.coli - This is another dangerous form of food-borne illness. The bacteria causes diarrhea, severe abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and fever. E.coli can be found in raw and undercooked ground beef and other red meats, imported cheeses and unpasteurized milk.

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.

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