When it comes to healthy kitchen habits, some precautions are more obvious than others. The importance of regularly washing your hands, for example, is something that even small children understand. In addition, wiping down countertops is commonly practiced for general cleanliness. However, a recent study reports that there are many kitchen items that commonly become cross-contaminated during preparation of meals. Harmful bacteria can also multiply when foods are not stored properly.
In order to protect yourself and your loved ones from unnecessary illness, here are four kitchen habits that you can adopt for healthier and sustainable living.
Defrost Meat in the Refrigerator
Harmful pathogens can multiply rapidly in meat or poultry that is allowed to thaw at room temperature. Once they have taken hold in full force, they cannot even be destroyed through the cooking process. Following proper thawing procedures is important to prevent microorganisms from thriving and posing a threat to you and your family.
Only thaw meat and poultry in the refrigerator, especially if it is thoroughly frozen and needs to defrost overnight. If you need to thaw larger pieces of meat, such as a whole turkey or chicken, you will need to plan 1-2 days in advance for the meat to fully thaw.
Store Food Properly
It’s also important to follow proper food storage procedures in order to keep harmful bacteria at bay. Track food that you store in your refrigerator and freezer by labeling the container with the date that you first stored the food or post a visible list by your fridge with the correct dates.
In addition, utilize a thermometer in your refrigerator and freezer to ensure that food is being stored at a safe temperature. Another way to prevent microorganisms from multiplying is to get routine maintenance on your appliances to make sure that they are providing a safe environment for your stored food.
Wash Reusable Grocery Bags
A food safety report provided by researchers from the University of Arizona revealed that reusable grocery bags are a likely breeding ground for harmful bacteria. If the same bag is used for produce and raw meat, bacteria can easily be transferred, even if these two items weren’t in the bag at the same time. Therefore, it’s important to wash reusable bags regularly. You can put cloth bags through the washing machine and wipe plastic ones with antibacterial wipes or cleaning spray.
Designate Usage of Sponges and Washcloths
Often, people use the same sponge or washcloth for both wiping down countertops and for washing dishes. This can be a cross-contamination disaster, especially when clean-up chores are delegated among family members. In order to avoid confusion about what a sponge or washcloth has been used for, designate separate spaces for those that have been used to wipe spills and those that are only for washing dishes. Make sure that these spaces are labeled clearly for all who will be working in your kitchen.
Your health and the health of your loved ones is worth protecting. These basic healthy kitchen habits can ensure that your family stays well and happy.