Heard of the National Sanitation Foundation? The organization is looking out for us in the kitchen, and recently decided “to take a closer look at Americans’ perceptions of germs in the kitchen and the effectiveness of their cleaning habits.” Their study results identify major infractions that are in close proximity to our food—meaning, the possibilities for ingestion of germs are great.
Take a quick guess at the places where germs love to hide and abide. You’ll probably get many of these correct, but I was surprised at some of the answers. Apparently, volunteers named the “computer keyboard” as the place they thought ranked number one in the house. In reality, the top offenders include:
1. refrigerator vegetable compartment: with Salmonella, Listeria, yeast and mold. Don’t know about you, but I try to wash mine with soap and water—recommended—every couple of weeks. Those veggies shed, and what they leave behind isn’t good for us.
2. refrigerator meat compartment: Salmonella and E.Coli set up house here. The foundation warns us to avoid storing meat above vegetables—meat drippings are bad news.
3. blender gasket: This one makes perfect sense to me, again, harboring Salmonella and E.Coli—they like daiquiris and milkshakes, too! Best suggestion is to dismantle the entire base EVERY TIME you use it. Clean meticulously before your next use.
The remaining troublemakers include:
- can opener
- rubber spatula
- food storage container with rubber seal
- refrigerator water dispenser
- refrigerator ice dispenser
- knife block
Other germ-fighting tips
If it feels like you’ll always be fighting germs in the kitchen, that’s a sad but true fact. Remember to:
Wash your hands completely after you handle any food and use hot water with plenty of soap—then dry with a clean towel. And speaking of towels, wash them after each use in hot water. Replace your sponges or microwave them frequently: two minutes at full power. Paper towels are best to soak up meat juices. Use bleach to clean and kill germs on your cutting boards and food preparation surfaces.