Health Risks in Your Kitchen
Are you still washing your chicken in the kitchen sink before cooking? Thawing frozen hamburger on the counter? Are you using the same dishcloth to clean your countertops and your dishes? Many common kitchen practices like these are outdated and may even be dangerous. There are plenty of health risks in your kitchen to be aware of.
Read on to discover five things you should stop doing in your kitchen.
1. Stop Washing Your Poultry
While rinsing poultry such as chicken and turkey was once common practice, this recommendation was retracted by the CDC, as it may do more harm than good. In the past, it was thought that rinsing the poultry would help to rid the meat of common pathogens that can cause food poisoning. However, when you rinse your poultry, microscopic amounts of bacteria from the meat can easily splash onto countertops, nearby food or dishes, and other surfaces, which is an even bigger risk.
The CDC now advises against rinsing your poultry and states that thoroughly cooking your meat to an internal temperature of 165 degrees is more than enough to kill any germs and illness-causing pathogens that may be lurking.
2. Don’t Re-Use Your Dishcloths
If you use the same dishcloth for everything in your kitchen, you may very well be transferring harmful germs and bacteria from one surface to another.
Many people wash their dishes and subsequently use the same cloth to wipe down their sink and other surfaces such as the table or countertops. Even worse, they may hang it to dry and use it again the next day. However, studies have shown that a common kitchen sink contains more bacteria than a toilet.
To avoid transferring this bacteria to every surface of your kitchen, use separate cloths for dishes, sinks, and surfaces.
3. Stop Thawing Meat on Your Counter
Leaving frozen meat out on the counter may seem like a smart way to quickly thaw it out before dinnertime. However, this is a risky practice.
According to the USDA, raw meat typically contains bacteria that can begin to multiply as soon as it reaches 40 degrees Fahrenheit. While the center of the meat might still be frozen, the outside edges will reach this temperature fairly quickly. Meat should never be left at room temperature for longer than two hours.
A safer alternative if you need to thaw your meat quickly is to use cold water. Place the meat into a resealable plastic bag and submerge it into a bowl of cold water. Replace the water every 30 minutes until the meat has thawed.
4. Avoid Washing Dishes by Hand
Washing pots and pans or mixing bowls by hand is not a problem. However, hand-washing items that have been in someone’s mouth, like silverware, is somewhat of a risk.
According to the World Health Organization, water must reach 140 to 150 degrees to kill germs and common viruses. Our skin is not made to withstand such temperatures – which means the water used when hand-washing dishes is not nearly hot enough to thoroughly disinfect and sanitize.
Always utilize a dishwasher for items used for eating and drinking, like cups and silverware. If you don’t have access to a dishwasher, consider using an antibacterial dish soap – most of them will kill 99.9% of viruses.
5. Stop Using Wooden Cutting Boards
Wooden cutting boards (and utensils like wooden spoons) can harbor dangerous bacteria. When these items are brand new, they typically have a coating that prevents germs and bacteria from getting inside. However, after they have been used for a while, they end up with small cracks and defects that allow bacteria to hide and breed.
The safest alternative is to avoid the use of wooden cutting boards and utensils altogether. At the very least, never use them for meat products and replace them when you start to notice any defects or small nicks in the wood.
There are many more health risks in your kitchen, but being conscious of them will keep you safe. You can eliminate concerns such as food-borne illness by following the recommendations listed above. Always follow recommended guidelines to ensure the safety of you and your family.
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