Everyone understands the aesthetic importance of a nice, clean kitchen. But equally important is kitchen safety: eliminating food contamination from the bacteria you can’t see. Follow these easy steps to ensure your kitchen is perfectly clean and healthy.
Kitchen Hygiene – Tip One: Preventing Recursive Food Contamination
This is perhaps the most important step of hygiene in the kitchen. It’s all very well ensuring that food is cooked through and safe, but if it’s allowed to come into contact with raw – and therefore potentially contaminated – food, then a serious flaw emerges even in an otherwise perfect germ-defence plan. Keeping raw food away from cooked food is therefore essential to avoid such re-contamination.
- One precaution, often overlooked outside of professional catering, is to store cooked food above raw food. Then, in the event of any drips or spillages, any contamination that would otherwise occur is prevented and the integrity of the cooked food preserved.
- Regular hand washing is, of course, always good. But washing your hands after touching raw food, especially if about to touch food that’s cooked, is of strategic importance.
- Disinfect any utensils and surfaces used to prepare raw food. It’s often best to do this immediately after use so that you don’t forget. Fortunately, a quick squirt and then wipe with Jif Antibacterial Spray should do the trick nicely.
Kitchen Hygiene – Tip Two: Cook Safely
As mentioned, the effectiveness of this step depends on the previous one; but the same is true of the reverse. There’s not much point making one lot of food safe if you’re going to let them mix, but neither is there much point building a wall if it’s got nothing important to separate.
- As most packaging will advise you, it’s a good idea to ensure that food you prepare is piping hot throughout. However, certain foods – particularly pork, poultry, rolled joints, and minced meats – are at especial risk.
- On the other hand, whole pieces of lamb and beef can, with care, be left rare. So there’s hope for you carnivores yet. This is because these meats are naturally at less risk and it can be hard for germs to penetrate from the surface to the centre of the meat. In rolled joints and mince, the surface is already compromised, so they don’t have to.
Kitchen Hygiene – Tip Three: Follow Food Contamination to the Source
Prevention is better than the cure. It’s a cliché, but in this instance, there’s more than a grain of truth to it!
- Wash hands and disinfect utensils and surfaces before any food preparation.
- Keep the refrigerator below 5°C. This also means only refrigerating food after it has cooled.
- Know the difference between use by and best before Foods marked with the first should be eaten before then for safety reasons, and thrown out otherwise. Foods marked with the second can be safely kept and consumed after the date has passed.
- Never refreeze food once it’s been thawed, or leave it to sit before cooking. Freezing only slows the action of most pathogens and doesn’t kill them.
Cross-contamination can easily occur in any household kitchen, but with these tips, you won’t only have a clean kitchen – you’ll have a safe one, too!