IN YOUR KITCHEN

Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend - - HOMES -

Although a quick daily clean might keep some of the bac­te­ria at bay, it’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that germs are lurk­ing in the dark cor­ners of­ten over­looked. Since the kitchen tends to be where fam­ily and friends con­gre­gate, not only is it alarm­ing to dis­cover that things may not be as clean as you thought they were, bac­te­ria can come in con­tact with the food you eat. That raises your risk of get­ting sick.

These are three places in the kitchen where germs like to hide, along with things you can do to clean up your act.

It’s true, germs can and do hang out in­side your re­frig­er­a­tor, es­pe­cially in the meat and veg­etable com­part­ments. In the Na­tional Sci­ence Foun­da­tion (NSF) study, these ar­eas tested pos­i­tive for E.coli, sal­monella or lis­te­ria 36 per­cent of the time. To keep food safe, dis­card food that’s past its prime, and main­tain a con­sis­tent tem­per­a­ture level in the fridge, ideally be­tween 40 and 32 de­grees Fahren­heit, ac­cord­ing to the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion (CDC). You should also get in the habit of reg­u­larly clean­ing re­frig­er­a­tor door han­dles and meat and veg­etable draw­ers.

Be hon­est. How long has that kitchen towel been hang­ing on that loop by the kitchen sink? A week? A month? Can’t re­mem­ber? If you’re not care­ful about how of­ten you wash your tow­els, your kitchen rags could be­come a breed­ing ground for dan­ger­ous, stom­ach-sick­en­ing germs. Ac­cord­ing to re­searchers from the Uni­ver­sity of Mau­ri­tius, tow­els can de­velop some nasty bac­te­ria — the kind that causes food­borne ill­nesses — when they’re used for a full month. Yuck. And don’t for­get the kitchen sink sponge. Other re­search sug­gests this so-called clean­ing tool har­bors some of the nas­ti­est germs, with three-quar­ters of them con­tam­i­nated with co­l­iform bac­te­ria, ac­cord­ing to a study com­pleted by NSF In­ter­na­tional.

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