Kitchen and food safety tips

May 15, 2012 at 2:15 p.m. ET

You can easily fall ill if you don't take care to properly keep your kitchen clean and safe. Here are some steps that'll help ensure the food you eat won't harm you.

Woman cleaning the kitchen

It can be easy to forget that the food we eat has the potential to harm us if we're not diligent about maintaining a clean kitchen. Here's a refresher on how to make sure your kitchen isn't a dangerous bacteria breeding ground.

Kill bacteria and prevent it from growing

Bacteria loves moist or wet areas to breed and grow in, so maintaing a dry, spotless kitchen is your first line of defence. Use antibacterial cleaners to kill germs, and make sure your cleaning tools aren't harbouring bacteria. Be sure to regularly replace items that are often wet, such as your dishwashing cloth (using a filthy, germy rag to wash your dishes defeats the purpose, after all). After washing surfaces in your kitchen, rather than let them air-dry, wipe them immediately so that no dampness lingers.

Be careful with kitchen items that come in contact with meat and fish

Give cutting boards, knives, containers, etc., a thorough cleaning in soapy hot water. Replace cutting boards if they have any cracks. Plastic cutting boards may be more beneficial for cutting meat, since you can wash them in the dishwasher. To be extra cautious, keep cutting boards used for raw meats separate from other food items.

Wash your hands well

There isn't much point to having a spotless kitchen and well-maintained tools if you prepare food with unclean hands. Before handling any food, make sure to scrub your hands thoroughly with soap and water.

Give canned foods a wipe before opening

It happens often enough that after you've opened a can, the lid falls in before you are able to lift it away. A can's contents can get contaminated if it comes into contact with any residue that may be on the lid. This is why wiping the lid before you open the can is necessary.

Wash your small appliances thoroughly

You may be tempted to just give your blender a quick rinse under the tap, but don't. A blender needs to be cleaned well after each use, as do your other small kitchen appliances, such as your food processor or mandolin. Take apart the components that come apart, and clean each one thoroughly so that no food residue is stuck in the crevices and can start breeding bacteria, making it unsafe the next time you use it.

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