How can I prevent foodborne illness?
The first cardinal rule of safe food preparation in the home is: Keep everything clean.
The cleanliness rule applies to the areas where food is prepared and, most importantly, to the cook.
Source: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
- Wash hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before starting to prepare a meal and after handling raw meat or poultry.
- Cover long hair with a net or scarf, and be sure that any open sores or cuts on the hands are completely covered. If the sore or cut is infected, stay out of the kitchen.
- Keep the work area clean and uncluttered. Wash countertops with a solution of 1 teaspoon of chlorine bleach to 1 quart of water or with a commercial kitchen cleaning agent diluted according to product directions. They’re the most effective at getting rid of bacteria.
- Also, be sure to keep dishcloths clean because, when wet, they can harbor bacteria and may promote their growth. Wash dishcloths weekly in hot water in the washing machine.
- Sanitize the kitchen sink drain periodically by pouring down the sink a solution of 1 teaspoon of bleach to 1 quart of water or a commercial kitchen cleaning agent. Food particles get trapped in the drain and disposal and, along with the moistness, create an ideal environment for bacterial growth.
- Use smooth cutting boards made of hard maple or a non-porous material such as plastic and free of cracks and crevices. Avoid boards made of soft, porous materials. Wash cutting boards with hot water and soap, using a scrub brush. Then, sanitize them by washing in an automatic dishwasher or by rinsing with a solution of 1 teaspoon of chlorine bleach to 1 quart of water.
- Always wash and sanitize cutting boards after using them for raw foods, such as seafood or chicken, and before using them for ready-to-eat foods. Consider using one cutting board only for foods that will be cooked, such as raw fish, and another only for ready-to-eat foods, such as bread, fresh fruit, and cooked fish
- Always use clean utensils and wash them between cutting different foods.
- Wash the lids of canned foods before opening to keep dirt from getting into the food. Also, clean the blade of the can opener after each use. Food processors and meat grinders should be taken apart and cleaned as soon as possible after they are used.
- Do not put cooked meat on an unwashed plate or platter that has held raw meat.
- Wash fresh fruits and vegetables thoroughly, rinsing under running water. Don’t use soap or other detergents. If necessary–and appropriate–use a small scrub brush to remove surface dirt.