The kitchen is the holy of holies of any dwelling, every hostess will tell you. In the kitchen should always reign clean and tidy, because otherwise it is impossible. But, frankly, admit it, because you also have such a sin — bad habits that you have not yet eradicated. And they refer to the kitchen. But first things first.
First of all, not all germs in your kitchen are harmful.
No panic: many microbes are not only not harmful, but also useful. They help strengthen the immune system and support a favorable microflora in your intestines, says Dr. Pritish Tosh, an infectious diseases specialist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester (MN).
But you should avoid pathogens that are different from beneficial microbes and can cause serious illnesses. “Pathogens are everywhere, from the bathroom to the kitchen, but in the kitchen they are even more dangerous because we pay less attention to cleaning and cleaning the kitchen than we do in the bathroom,” says Kelly Reynolds, microbes specialist, Ph.D. and medical sciences University of Arizona.
So what are the most common mistakes that can increase the risk of the emergence and reproduction of these pathogens? This is what the experts think:
1. Failure to maintain proper order and hygiene
"Obviously, if checks were carried out in our kitchens, we would all fail them. Even microbe experts," says Reynolds. “We should all respect and not neglect such simple rules as: keep clean, always wash our hands after using the toilet or coming from the street, avoid contact of surfaces or ready-made dishes with raw meat, do not store dairy products for too long, and so on. Internet standards for sanitary and epidemiological requirements for the organization of kitchen work in restaurants and catering establishments in your country and compare how much you yourself follow such rules at home in your kitchen. "
2. Cooking raw meat (especially poultry) without constantly thoroughly washing any surface with which it came into contact
"More than 50% of the meat from the markets or shops is dirty, because of the way it was cut and packed," the expert continues. “One sick chicken can infect thousands of others with pathogens such as salmonella or E. coli. These germs die while cooking at high temperatures. But you must be careful not to let raw meat come in contact with other foods in your kitchen, such as salads and cold snacks. "
“You should always use separate pans and cutting boards for raw meat and other products, unless you disinfect them properly in the intervals between use. Also, you should wash your hands thoroughly after each contact with raw meat if you do not want to earn trouble.” .
3. Freezing or thawing of raw meat in the refrigerator outside a closed container
“It's easier for everyone to put raw meat in a refrigerator in foam packaging or in food film, just like we brought it from the store. But in fact, the packaging can be damaged, and the thawed meat can leak by dripping food from the lower shelves. If the meat infected with salmonella or Escherichia coli, and the thawed liquid from it gets into vegetables or fruits, you risk getting the strongest food poisoning or catching an infection, ”Tosh says.
Even worse, if the raw meat is frozen and you put it in the fridge in this form. In this case, it necessarily thaws and drips everything around. Experts recommend putting frozen meat in a separate container - a lockable container or container that could provide additional protection to other products.
4. Poor cleaning and insufficient processing of cutting boards after raw meat.
"You know that scratches and cracks remain on your cutting boards and that these are the most convenient places for the accumulation and reproduction of pathogenic bacteria? If you have not washed the board well after cutting the meat and immediately began cutting vegetables or other products on it, almost certainly you risk catching the pathogen, "says Reynolds. That is why it is necessary to thoroughly disinfect the boards after each use, and it is better to use separate for each type of products.
It is best to disinfect the boards with antibacterial soap or special hygienic solution for kitchen utensils.
5. Using the sponge for too long
“This is literally the warmth and most comfortable breeding ground for all pathogenic bacteria,” says Reynolds. “All these pores and holes in the sponge are a great place in which bacteria can live and multiply for weeks. If you want to know what diseases have settled in your home over the past week, just hand over your dish sponge for analysis, ”says the expert.
Do not wait until your sponge loses its appearance and becomes covered with mold. Do not allow bacteria to migrate from it to your dishes. It is better to use special brushes for washing, but if you are more used to sponges, then make sure to change them at least once a month.
6. Leave the sponges or brushes for dishes on the edge of the sink, where they can not completely dry
“If the sponge is constantly wet, pathogenic bacteria will multiply in it even faster,” Reynolds says. “Instead, keep the sponges away from the sink — in a special cabinet or on a separate shelf, where it will be protected from excess water and can completely dry out applications. "
7. Do not monitor the cleanliness of washing and eating food that fell there.
“People often forget about the state of washing in the kitchen, but in reality, it’s just as dangerous as a sink in the toilet,” Reynolds said. “Because people always put dirty vegetables in the sink and wash raw meat in it, all this dirt and bacteria create a pathogenic film that covers the bottom of the sink and accumulates around the drain hole, creating a breeding ground for harmful bacteria. If you do not wash the sink thoroughly, pathogens can multiply within a few weeks. "
So if you plan to eat something that you just dropped in a sink (for example, a tomato or berries), wash them thoroughly before sending them to your mouth. And do not forget to wash the car wash with a disinfectant once a week.
8. Wipe dirty wash sponge
Never wipe the dirt with a sponge wash - there are too many crevices and pores in it, which can be an excellent home for harmful bacteria. Even if you use a sponge with a disinfectant, you still risk putting dangerous microorganisms in it, ”Reynolds warns.
Instead, use paper towels or special cleaning cloths, which are then washed at high temperatures.
9. Poor cleaning and not often enough to change the brushes for dishes
Brushes are by far the best choice for washing dishes, but food particles can also get stuck in their bristles. And if they are not removed from there in time, the harmful bacteria will multiply with the same success as in a wet sponge.
"Disinfect dish brushes at least once a week," advises the specialist. "If you notice strange pink spots on the bristles, this is a sure sign that the Serratia marcescens fungus is actively multiplying on your brush, which means that you need to either immediately change the brush or thoroughly disinfect."
10. Prepare food when you are sick, especially gastrointestinal infections.
“Would you eat at a restaurant whose chef suffers from an upset stomach? Cooking during an infectious disease of the gastrointestinal tract threatens the spread of harmful bacteria,” Tosh says, “Microorganisms that cause diarrhea spread by the oral-fecal route, and therefore all the same bacteria that are in your bathroom will be present in the kitchen. When preparing food in a diseased state, you risk infecting everyone who will eat the dishes you have prepared, "the expert warns.
11. Keep food on the table for too long
When food is at room temperature for more than two hours, it acquires an ideal temperature so that toxins produce microbes begin to multiply in it, which is why after eating such a food, the risk of poisoning or diarrhea increases.
"Keep the food hot or keep it in the refrigerator, but do not let the dishes cool down and acquire a temperature favorable for the development of pathogens. Limit the time between the time when the food temperature is not high enough to kill the bacteria, and not long enough to prevent their height, "advises Tosh.
We are not talking about bread and other products. This mainly concerns soups and dairy products, as well as salads containing mayonnaise dressings.
12. Putting hot food in the fridge without letting it cool
Allow time for food to cool before placing it in the refrigerator. "People are often lazy to decompose food into small containers in which it cools faster, preferring to put large pans in the refrigerator. In fact, in large containers the food cools much longer, therefore, it will take more time to cool it to the desired temperature “And just this gap will be enough for pathogens to begin to multiply,” Reynolds warns.
13. Neglect of production and use dates
"Use your products strictly in accordance with the specified dates, because they clearly make it clear in what time the pathogenic bacteria begin to multiply in them," Reynolds said. "Shelf life is also a relative concept, because everything also depends on how correctly stored the products in the store before they got to your kitchen. "
14. Allow animals to walk or sit on the surface where you cook.
Even in spite of all your assurances that your cat is clean, it’s just an animal that bears many parasites and bacteria. “Cats tolerate toxoplasmosis,” says the expert, “and these harmful pathogens are not dangerous for the animal itself, but they can harm people, especially pregnant women, causing the risk of serious birth defects in the fetus.”
Therefore, try not to allow animals to walk on the work surface in the kitchen, and if you notice them there, do not be lazy to disinfect.
15. Forget to wash and rinse fresh greens.
“A little dirt or sand in the food doesn’t really hurt you,” Reynolds jokes, “but what’s really dangerous is all sorts of harmful microorganisms that reproduce, say, in packed greens from supermarkets. And except for microbes that actively reproduce in raw meat or semi-warm food, there are also those who feel great in cold temperatures, multiplying while still in refrigerated bags. That is why it is so important to thoroughly wash any greens before eating. "
“Listeria - a bacterium that has already caused a person’s death is very dangerous,” says Reynolds, “one sick leaf can infect an entire pack of greens. Experts advise to thoroughly wash packaged greens even though it’s washed out on the package ".
16. Keep leftovers in the fridge for too long
Even if after a week of refrigerated storage, your food looks fine, it does not mean that it is safe enough. “It makes no sense to recognize this by color or smell, because you just don't smell bacteria that can double your colonies in just 20 minutes,” Reynolds said. “Don't keep food for more than 4-5 days (except for frozen meat and food) If your food has been at room temperature for too long, then it will spoil faster in the fridge. Yes, it may be a pity to throw out tasty food, but is it better to get an upset stomach or poisoning in return? What can I advise? Or cook less number e s, or dispose of it, if you do not wait too long to eat, and doubt its fitness "- said the expert.
17. Use the same dish and hand towel.
“The towel is the quickest way to transfer bacteria, so be careful to use different hand and dish towels,” Reynolds advises. “There is nothing worse than wiping clean dishes with a towel with germs, right? Also, do not forget every week wash your kitchen towels at high temperature and using disinfectants. "
18. Forget disinfecting dishware
"Drying for dishes is a great place for its perfect drying. Water in it from washed dishes just drains and evaporates, without having to wipe it with a towel. But the drying itself is fraught with danger, because the water that accumulates in the pan can contain bacteria and fungus, - says Reynolds, - so do not forget to wipe it dry with paper towels after each use and also to disinfect it several times a month. "
19. Forget to wash your hands
Every time you go into the kitchen, you must be sure that your hands are clean. When you cook, you must be sure that your hands are clean. Especially if you are dealing with raw meat or fish. Even if you just want to warm up your food, still wash your hands before that!
Get antibacterial soap with dispenser and paper towels in the kitchen and don't forget to wash your hands every time you enter the room! And when you are too lazy to do it, just think about whether you would eat food in a restaurant whose chef is lazy to wash their hands?