Carol Berg Sloan RD
I mostly write about nutrition, but another factor for good health is food safety. Here are a few tools for your kitchen to keep it one of the safest places in the house.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that every year about 48 million people in the United States become ill from harmful bacteria in food; of these, about 3,000 die. Uncooked meats, eggs and dairy dishes may be more prone to high levels of bacteria. This is why a pocket thermometer ($5 on amazon.com; $15 at Smart & Final) is a must in every kitchen, although most households don’t have one. For example, beef meatloaf should be cooked to 160 degrees, chicken to 165 degrees, while egg dishes such as quiches and custards should be cooked to 160 degrees. Always put the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat or dish, and clean between uses.
Cutting boards are needed to protect your beautiful countertop but also to protect against cross contamination, which is when bacteria is passed from one food to another such as raw chicken to sliced tomatoes. There are fabulous cutting boards available in plastic, wood and even glass. I have all types of cutting boards, and I do replace them if they get dirty grooves, splinters or chips. Plastic and glass can be put in a dishwasher, but wood needs to be sanitized carefully after using.
Paper towels are a staple in my kitchen, for they are safe and sanitary. Towels end up wiping spills that can include raw meat, dirt, chemicals, blood or other bodily fluids. Use paper towels that allow you to tear smaller sections and that are 100-percent recyclable.
Proper hand-washing technique includes soap and hot water. Have a soap dispenser at the kitchen sink, and make sure your entire family knows how to wash hands correctly. According to the National Restaurant Association, here’s the right way in 5 simple steps:
• Wet hands with running water as hot as you can comfortably stand
• Apply enough soap to build up a good lather
• Vigorously scrub hands and arms for at least 10 to 15 seconds, and clean under fingernails and between fingers
• Rinse hands and arms thoroughly under running water
• Dry hands and arms with a paper towel, and use the paper towel to turn off the faucet.
Enjoy healthy delicious food, and keep your kitchen a safe haven for preparation and eating.
Sloan is a registered dietitian in Long Beach and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .