New Research Provides Tips for Making Your Home Food Preparation Safer
During a recent study from Kansas State University (KSU) 120 parents were observed while cooking in a test kitchen. After participants were finished cooking, samples were taken to find non-toxic tracer bacteria around the test kitchen and in the food prepared.
The researchers found tracer bacteria on 90% of samples taken from the fruit salads prepared during the study. 82% of participants contaminated the sink, refrigerator, oven and/or trash cabinet handles with the tracer bacteria. Participants who received food safety educational material developed by USDA before participation showed lower levels of cross-contamination than did the control group.
The kitchen towel was the number one source of cross contamination. The kitchen towels became contaminated because participants in the study used them to dry hands that were not washed properly. The towels were then used to dry or wipe hands multiple times allowing the bacteria to spread.
You can protect yourself from the risk of food poisoning found in this study with these easy to implement changes.
Know When to Wash Your Hands
It is easy to forget you should wash your hands throughout meal preparation. This includes when you start cooking, after handling raw meat, raw meat packaging, and raw eggs, and after throwing away trash. When throwing away used meat containers during cooking well over half the study participants did not wash their hands or just rinsed them after throwing away items.
Avoid the Splash & Dash
“Splashing and dashing” with hand washing is not enough to rinse away bacteria. As tempting as it is to just run your hands under water to remove the visible food particles on your hands, you are not removing the more dangerous bacteria. To remove bacteria you need both soap and water and the friction of rubbing hands together with soap. Just water will not do the job.
To avoid spreading bacteria around your kitchen, make sure to wash your hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. An easy way to tell if you are washing for long enough is to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice.
Use Good Dish Cloth Hygiene
Effective hand washing isn’t the only way to protect your kitchen from cross-contamination. You can also use good dishcloth hygiene. Dish towels should be washed frequently in the hot cycle of your washing machine. This will remove the bacteria that have taken up residence on your cloth towel.
Use Paper Towels Only Once
Paper towels should be used once and then thrown out. Many study participants were observed using paper towels as if they were designed for multiple uses. Some participants used the same paper towel more than once to dry or wipe their hands and/or clean kitchen surfaces. This causes the bacteria to be spread to other surfaces.