As the AP reports, a new study done in Los Angeles County shows that one in seven home kitchens would flunk the health inspections that restaurants are subjected to, which begs the question: should we be more worried about food safety at home?
Though 61% of kitchens would score an A or B grade, at least 14% would fail-not even getting a C. And if you think about it, wouldn't you be skeeved out eating in a restaurant that didn't pass a standard sanitation test? So, to mitigate the risk of you or anyone in your family getting sick with food poisoning, follow these guidelines:
First and foremost, make sure that your fridge is set at less than 40 degrees to prevent bacteria from growing. Since temperatures fluctuate, the best way to ensure your fridge is as cool as you want it to be is to place a refrigerator thermometer on the middle shelf of your fridge and check it regularly.
Scrub down the interior of your refrigerator (shelves, drawers, walls, and all) with warm soapy water and a clean sponge. Rinse and pat dry with a clean cloth. Be careful what kinds of cleaning agents you use-you want some mild, and ideally as natural as possible in the event that the taste (or chemicals) get transfer onto your food, and you want to be sure not to damage the surfaces.
Get into the habit of wiping away spills as soon as they happen, particularly if they involve raw meat. If you're defrosting meats, do it on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator in a covered container to avoid dripping and cross-contamination.
Make sure the front grill of your refrigerator is clean to let air flow through, so it can cool effectively. Clean the condenser coils with a brush or vacuum (another reason to buy a handheld vacuum!)-and remember to unplug the fridge when you do.
Sift through the contents of your fridge weekly for foods that might be past their prime. Check expiration dates to help you figure out what needs tossing.
Clean your faucet and sink regularly to prevent bacteria growth, using some kind of antibacterial cleanser or bleach. Dish towels need to be washed regularly, too-just because the mildew isn't visible, doesn't mean it isn't lurking there.
Buy different cutting boards for meats and veggies to avoid cross-contamination. Sanitize them regularly, too, to make sure bacteria isn't forming (this can be done with vinegar or hot water mixed in with a little bleach). You also want to wipe down coutertops with antibacterial solution after every use.