Spring Clean Your Kitchen to Be Food Safe

April 21, 2011 at 6:56 pm Leave a comment

Just as you spring clean your closets, cars and garages, the U.S. Department of Agriculture encourages everyone to give your kitchen – especially refrigerators and freezers where raw meat, poultry and seafood is stored – a thorough cleaning as well.

Cleaning out your freezer requires extra care, so here are a few simple steps to help you spring clean your kitchen, prevent cross contamination, and reduce the risk of foodborne illness.

  • Clean. Bacteria can be transferred by hands, cutting boards, and knives and quickly spread to all kitchen surfaces. Wash countertops with hot soapy water before and after preparing food. Wipe up spills in the fridge immediately and clean surfaces thoroughly with hot, soapy water.
  • Sanitize surfaces and utensils with a solution of one tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water. If spoiled food has left an odor in your refrigerator or freezer, wash and sanitize shelves, crispers, and ice trays, as well as the door and gasket. Leave the door open for about 15 minutes to allow free air circulation.
  • Separate. Keep fresh or frozen raw meats and any juices that may leak from them away from already-cooked food or fresh produce. Never place cooked food back on the same plate or cutting board that previously held raw food. Thaw or store raw meat, poultry, and seafood in a container or on a plate in the refrigerator so juices can’t drip on other foods. Always use clean plates and utensils.
  • Cook. Meat, poultry, and seafood should be cooked to a safe internal temperature to be sure bacteria that may be present is destroyed. Cuts of beef, veal, and lamb should be cooked to 145 °F; pork and ground beef should be cooked to 160 °F; and poultry should be cooked to 165 °F.
  • Chill. Bacteria grow fastest at temperatures between 40 °F – 140 °F, so chilling food properly is one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of foodborne illness. Cool the fridge to 40 °F or below, and use an appliance thermometer to make sure the temperature does not rise. Chill leftovers and takeout foods within two hours, making sure to divide food into shallow containers for rapid cooling.
  • Thaw meat, poultry, and seafood in the fridge, not on the counter.
  • Toss. Once a week, make it a habit to throw out perishable foods that should no longer be eaten. A general rule of thumb for refrigerator storage is four days for cooked leftovers; three to five days for raw steaks, roasts and chops of red meat; and one to two days for raw poultry, ground meats, and fish.

Entry filed under: Managing your health, Nutrition, Safety.

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