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If the Health Department came a-knocking, would your kitchen be deemed safe for cooking? There’s a good chance it wouldn’t, according to a survey of Los Angeles residents.
In a report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health determined that if household kitchens were held to the same sanitary code requirements as restaurants, only 34 percent of households have a kitchen clean enough to earn an A rating.
More than half of the households surveyed earned a B or C, and 14 percent didn’t even earn a rating because their scores were so low. Compare this to L.A. restaurants, where 98 percent received an A or B rating, and you might consider eating out a bit more often.
This is important because while illness outbreaks caused by mass produced eggs or peanut butter grab headlines, many cases of food poisoning come from food cooked at home. In fact, nearly one in five survey respondents in the CDC report admitted getting sick from food cooked in their own kitchens.
So what makes for a healthy kitchen? Consider the following:
- Food that you’re not going to serve right away needs to be refrigerated. In the survey, 64 percent of respondents lost points for leaving food out until it was ready to be eaten.
- Your refrigerator should be set to 41 degrees, and you should have a thermometer to ensure that it stays that cool.
- Meats should be stored in the lowest compartment of the refrigerator, where it’s coldest.
- Pasteurized eggs should be used for any recipe involving raw eggs, such as Caesar dressing or hollandaise sauce.
- When cleaning up, use a separate rag for cleaning up raw meat spills. Kitchen rags and sponges should be washed daily -- throw your sponge into the dishwasher with your dishes.
- When testing your recipes, use a new, clean spoon for each taste.
- When reheating foods, use a thermometer to make sure it’s been heated to at least 165 degrees.
- Can opener blades should be cleaned regularly.
- Wooden cutting boards with scratches must either be resurfaced or thrown away. (Plastic can't be resurfaced.)
- Wash your hands for 15 seconds using warm, sudsy water before you start cooking, after you use the restroom, after sneezing or blowing your nose and after touching any exposed part of your body (such as scratching an itch).
Based on these guidelines, how does your kitchen rate? What are your tips for keeping a clean kitchen? Chime in below!