Consumer Articles

Tips for Cooking in a Safe Kitchen

Date: May 18, 2009

Courtesy of The American Dietetic Association

From top to bottom, a clean kitchen offers a main line of defense against the spread of colds, flu and other foodborne illness. Before working with food, eliminate the breeding grounds for harmful bacteria by following the American Dietetic Association's (ADA's) "checklist for a clean kitchen."

Hands
Because bacteria live and multiply on warm, moist hands, it's important to wash hands before coming in contact with food. Wash hands front and back, between fingers and under fingernails in warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds before and after every step in preparing foods. Remember to wash hands again when switching tasks.
Work surfaces

Always clean work surfaces with a multi-purpose cleaner for everyday spills and a disinfectant, such as a chlorine-bleach solution, to kill bacteria. Avoid cross-contamination which occurs when bacteria in one food spread to another, often from a cutting board, knife, plate, spoon or hands by sanitizing cutting boards after each use with a chlorine bleach-water solution.
Utensils
Avoid cross-contamination with utensils, too. Unless cleaned well between tasks, use a different knife to chop vegetables and slice meat. And, never taste with the stirring spoon! In addition, make sure dishes are washed in the dishwasher or in hot (at least 140°F), soapy water and rinsed well.

Towels and dishcloths
Change and wash towels and dishcloths often and allow them to dry out between each use. Being damp, they're the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Throw out dirty sponges, or wash in a bleach-water solution.

Appliances
On any appliance, clean-up spills right away. Wash appliance surfaces with hot, soapy water and pay special attention to the refrigerator and freezer where foods are stored. Don't forget the microwave where splatters can harbor bacteria, too.
Hotline gives personalized answers to nutrition questions

Consumers can call ADA's Consumer Nutrition Hot Line at 1-800-366-1655 and hear special recorded messages, in English or Spanish, on timely nutrition topics or be referred to a registered dietitian in their area.