Ten Steps to a Safe Kitchen
View the steps below or download the Ten Steps to a Safe Kitchen presentation.
Step One: Keep your refrigerator at 40° F (4° C) or less. A temperature of 40°F or less is important because it slows the growth of most bacteria. The fewer bacteria there are, the less likely you are to get sick from them.
Step Two: Refrigerate cooked, perishable food as soon as possible within two hours after cooking.
A temperature of 40°F (4°C) or less is important because it slows the growth of most bacteria. The fewer bacteria there are, the less likely you are to get sick from them. Date leftovers so they can be used within two to three days. If in doubt, throw it out!
Step Three: Sanitize your kitchen dishcloths and sponges regularly. Wash with a solution of one teaspoon chlorine bleach to one quart water, or use a commercial sanitizing agent, following product directions. Many cooks use dishcloths or sponges to mop up areas where they have worked with uncooked meat and then reuse the cloth or sponge in other kitchen areas after minimal rinsing.A contaminated dishcloth can house millions of bacteria after a few hours. Consider using paper towels to clean up and then throw them away immediately. Wash hands carefully after handling raw meat.
Step Four: Wash your cutting board with soap and hot water after each use. Washboard Never allow raw meat, poultry, and fish to come in contact with other foods. Washing with only a damp cloth will not remove bacteria. Periodically washing in a bleach solution is the best way to prevent bacteria from remaining on your cutting board.
Step Five: Cook ground beef, red meats and poultry products to a safe internal temperature. Use a meat thermometer. Hamburger Cooking food, including ground meat patties, to an internal temperature of at least 160°F (72°C) usually protects against foodborne illness. Ground beef can be contaminated with potentially dangerous E. coli 0157:H7 bacteria. The US Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) advised consumers to use a meat thermometer when cooking hamburger and not rely on the internal color of the meat to be sure it is safe to eat. This change resulted from research that indicates some ground meat may turn prematurely brown before a safe internal temperature of 160°F (72°C) is reached.
Step Six: Don't eat raw or lightly cooked eggs. Many older cookbooks have recipes for ice cream, mayonnaise, eggnog and some desserts that call for raw eggs. These recipes are no longer recommended because of the risk of Salmonella. The commercial versions of these products are made with pasteurized eggs (eggs that have been sufficiently heated to kill bacteria) and are not a food hazard. Remember--this means no sampling of cake batters and cookie dough before they are baked!
Step Seven: Clean kitchen counters and other surfaces that come in contact with food with hot water and detergent or a solution of bleach and water. Counter Bleach and commercial cleaning agents are best for getting rid of pathogens. Hot water and detergent do a good job, too, but may not kill all strains of bacteria. Keep sponges and dishcloths clean because, when wet, these materials harbor bacteria and may encourage their growth.
Step Eight: Allow dishes and utensils to air-dry in order to eliminate re-contamination from hands or towels. Air Dry When washing dishes by hand, it's best to wash them all within two hours--before bacteria can begin to form.
Step Nine: Wash hands with soap and warm water immediately after handling raw meat, poultry, or fish. Hand Washing Wash for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food, especially raw meat. If you have an infection or cut on your hands, wear rubber or plastic gloves.
Step Ten: Defrost meat, poultry and fish products in the refrigerator, microwave oven, or cold water that is changed every 30 minutes. Thaw Follow package directions for thawing foods in the microwave. Cook microwave-defrosted food immediately after thawing. Changing water every 30 minutes when thawing foods in cold water ensures that the food is kept cold, an important factor for slowing bacterial growth on the outside while inner areas are still thawing.