Safety Tips for Your Kitchen

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Illness-causing bacteria can survive in many places in your kitchen. Unless you are following proper food handling protocols, you could be spreading these bacteria to your food and family.


Washing hands

  • Wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds

  • Wet hands with soap and water; apply soap.

  • Make lather. Be sure to scrub back of hands, wrists, between fingers, and under nails.

  • Rinse your hands well.

  • Dry with clean towel or drying device.

  • Use drying towel to turn off the faucet and dispose.

Washing surfaces

  • Use paper towels or clean towels to wipe up spills. Wash towels in hot water cycle often.

  • Wash all kitchen items including counters with hot soapy water in between each item.

  • To sanitize: use 1 teaspoon unscented liquid bleach in one-gallon warm water.

Washing foods

  • Cut out any damaged or bruised areas.

  • Rinse produce under running water; do not use any type of soap or detergent.

  • Use a produce brush to scrub firm produce.

  • If a product is marked "pre-washed" it is safe to use without additional washing.

NOTE: It is important to wash your fruits and vegetables before cutting because bacteria on the outside can be carried to the inside.

NOTE: Washing meat, poultry, and commercial eggs can help the spread of bacteria.


Separate while preparing

  • Use a separate cutting board for produce and one for raw meat, poultry, or seafood.

  • Use separate utensils for cooked and raw foods.

NOTE: when a cutting board gets warn and has deep grooves, consider replacing. Bacteria and live in the grooves even after cleaning.

Separate while shopping

  • Be sure to separate your raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs from all other foods in your cart.

  • At checkout, be sure meats are put in plastic bags to avoid their juices from dripping.

Separate while storing

  • Place raw meat, poultry, and seafood in plastic containers to keep juices from leaking onto other items. If you are not going to use food for a few days, freeze items instead.

  • Keep eggs in the original carton and store in the main compartment, not in the door.

  • Prevent the possibility of cross-contamination by storing food in your refrigerator properly.


Use a food thermometer

  • Use a food thermometer for all meats. Color and texture do not indicate a finished product.

  • To temp your food, choose the thickest part of the food. Be sure not to hit any bone, fat, or gristle.

  • Wait the appropriate time for your thermometer to read the final temperature.

  • Compare your final temperature to a minimum cooking chart for temperatures.

  • Clean your thermometer after each use with hot soapy water.

  • Calibrate your thermometer often, each time you use it.  


  • Do not over pack your refrigerator to allow air flow.

  • Refrigerator should be about 32-40 degrees F.

  • Perishable foods should be placed in the refrigerator/freezer within 2 hours. In the summer months, food should be stored within an hour.

  • Separate food into several shallow metal pans to chill rapidly. Do not place lids on food until the item is cooled.

  • Use a food thermometer to check the temperature.

Bye-Bye Bacteria

Cleaning of all surfaces should be done by means of sanitizing. This can be done with heat, like a dishwasher, or with a chemical. The two most common sanitizers are chlorine (bleach) and quaternary ammonia.

Before sanitizing, you must properly wash with a detergent and then rinse the item. Sanitizing is the last step. The contact time, the time the item needs to be completely soaked in the sanitizer, is usually 60 seconds and up. It is best to let items air dry to allow even more contact time.

Be careful you are not disinfecting. What is the difference you ask? Sanitizing kills 99.99% of bacteria in a short amount of time, usually 60 seconds. Disinfecting is when all organisms will be destroyed in about 10 minutes.

Chemical poisoning can occur when disinfecting. If the surfaces have too much chemical, the chemical will reside long after the needed time and can transfer onto food and food surfaces.

Holiday Food Safety Tips

For more food safety tips check out The Dish of Pueblo