We all know that what we eat directly affects our health. But a fact that isn’t given as much importance is where and how we prepare our food. Surprisingly, and maybe even shockingly, good hygiene practices are not as prevalent as we all assume. So let’s take a look at areas that deserve our attention that leads to various health issues.
Inappropriate Food Handling
Food handling ranges from choosing clean and healthy food produce to using the appropriate cooking process. If you neglect these areas you might inadvertently be hosting a feast for germs and bacteria, causing foodborne illnesses that irritate your digestive system, escalating into more serious issues.
Undercooking Foods: Thorough cooking ensures microbes present on the surface of produce or within it are destroyed and the harmful effects of preservatives are neutralized. Always store left-over food in clean containers in the refrigerator and remember to use them in a day or two.
Unwashed Vegetables/Fruits: Have you considered how well you clean your fruits and vegetables? Do you quickly rinse them under the tap and dump them into your skillet, or in the case of salads and fruits pop them into your mouth? Although many of us are aware of the pesticides used in large-scale farming, and the preservatives that keep the produce fresh for long, we still conveniently forget this little fact when cooking. So think of the journey your produce has had from the farm to your table and make it a habit to soak fruits and veggies in water for 10-15 minutes. Adding salt, turmeric powder or baking soda to the water is recommended.
Not Washing Hands: Wash your hands regularly throughout the cooking process, particularly while dealing with meat and fish.
Dirty Kitchen Cloths
So you wipe down your counters and wash your hands regularly. Good. But have you considered the cloth you might be using? How often do you wash them? And how about the towels you use to dry your hands and dry your dishes? Do you use separate ones for them? If not, you should. And all towels and clothes should be washed every day to prevent the build-up of germs and microbes. For better results, wash the clothes in hot water and dry them under the sun.
Unclean Cutting Boards
Cutting boards are almost indispensable. But if not cleaned regularly and properly, it could turn into a home for bacteria, fungus and mould. It’s advisable to use separate boards for vegetables and meat. Wooden cutting boards should be rinsed well with hot water and dried with a clean kitchen cloth.
Sponges should be washed in hot, soapy water and placed in a spot with good air circulation to dry after every use. Worn-out sponges and those with odor should be discarded immediately. In fact, don’t wait for your sponges to reach that stage — bad odor is a sign of excessive bacterial growth. Change your sponges regularly, ideally every two weeks to a month.
Ignoring Knobs, Handles, and Touchpads
Just think of how often we touch stove knobs and fridge door handles, pull open kitchen cabinets? Will everyone’s hands be spotlessly clean each time? Probably not. This means dirty hands could leave a variety of bacteria such as Salmonella, Listeria, E. Coli, as well as yeast and moulds on these surfaces. So try and wipe knobs, handles, oven touchpads, and control panels every day with a disinfectant wipe or a spray-on disinfectant cleaner.
Now take a look at your daily kitchen cleaning routine and how you prep your food and plug holes if any.