Bacteria can be found almost everywhere, but because we cannot see them, we often assume that surfaces are spotlessly clean, even when they are not. Hygiene in the kitchen is vitally important to prevent food poisoning.
1. Chopping boards are one of the worst culprits for harbouring bacteria. In fact, the average chopping board contains around twice as many faecal bacteria as a toilet seat.
Solution: The best way to prevent growth of bacteria and infection of your food is to disinfect the board after every use. Separate boards should ideally be used for meat and vegetables, but if you only have one, make sure you prepare any meat last, to avoid contamination of foods that you eat uncooked, such as salad.
2. Kitchen sponges harbour vast amounts of bacteria, which will rapidly multiply in a damp environment such as this. You may assume that the hot water used to wash your dishes will kill them, allowing you to keep using the same sponge until it wears out, but bacteria thrive in warm temperatures. The water is highly unlikely to be hot enough to kill the bacteria.
Solution: Make sure you replace the sponge frequently. Between uses, squeeze as much water out as you can, and don’t leave it sitting in a puddle. Many bacteria can only survive for a few hours in a dry environment. Antibacterial washing up liquid can also help to reduce the contamination of your sponge.
3. The drain in your kitchen sink is another place where bacteria can be found in extremely high numbers. In fact, surveys have shown that a kitchen drain contains, on average, over half a million bacteria per square inch – this is because it is an area that will not usually be cleaned very often.
Solution: Treat it exactly the same as any other surface in your kitchen, and disinfect regularly. Baking soda is one of the most effective ways to eliminate bacteria from this location, and it is something you may already have in your kitchen.
4. Your kitchen worktops also harbour bacteria, no matter how careful you have been to keep raw products on the chopping board or a plate. This means that they will need cleaning each time you have prepared food, and spills need to be wiped up immediately.
Solution: Don’t place food directly on the counter unless you have just disinfected it, as you will be transferring bacteria onto what you are about to eat. The most hygienic choice for a work surface is stainless steel, as used in all professional catering environments, because it is extremely easy to disinfect, and will not be damaged by cleaning products.
5. Finally, your towels will also be a source of infection.
Solution: Keep one that is purely for drying hands, and do not use it on any of your dishes. Towels used for drying dishes should be changed on a regular basis, and washed at a high temperature (at least 60 degrees Celsius) to kill bacteria.
- License: Royalty Free or iStock source: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/316936
- License: Royalty Free or iStock source: http://www.teknomek.co.uk/stainless-steel-light-duty-preparation-table-1200-x-600-x-840mm/p133
I had previoulsy wondered why commercial catering equipment all seemed to be made of stainless steel, I had thought it was just for a uniform, clinical look. However it turns out that it’s the best material, it doesn’t rust, easy to clean and keep bacteria free – but it’s not cheap! There are other ways of course to keep the kitchen clean, just make sure you put the effort in, as bacteria will thrive on a half done job.