You may be sick of your kitchen in more ways than one. In fact, the sick feeling that your kitchen gives you may not have anything to do with the kind of aesthetics or its interior design but may be because of something you caught the process of preparing or eating food. If we thought about how unsanitary the average kitchen is, many people would end up starving to death. The terrible fact is that average kitchen contains more germs than a bathroom. You can try scrubbing your kitchen with bleach and disinfectant, but the problem is that disinfectants can actually create superbugs that are resistant anything you use against them. The best protection you have against then is to stay informed and to know what to look out for.
Watch out for Spoilage
Recent scandals about fast food and E. coli have caused many people to avoid certain eating establishments. Some take precautions by preparing all of their meals at home. Home cooking may save you money and be healthier in terms of the kinds of nutrients your body receives, but you may not be escaping the dangers of germs and food borne illnesses if you don’t know what to look out for. While cleanliness and hygiene are important, the main issues to emphasize to avoiding illnesses are watching out for spoilage and making sure food is at the right temperature.
At the supermarket, find out exactly where your food is coming from. You might think it is safer to purchase perishable items locally, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t contain germs that will make you ill. Many people feel safer shopping at a farmers market. It is likely that these items contain fewer pesticides than fruits and vegetables you find at the supermarket. Farmers’ market produce is fresher and may have more nutrients than regular fruits and vegetables, but don’t assume that they contain fewer bacteria.
On the contrary, tomatoes that have been shipped in from another state or transported most likely end up in temperature controlled containers and are less likely have germs than those that were kept in at room temperature but remained local. Concerning which food is suitable to eat from supermarkets and farmers markets, it is worthwhile to consult the website of experts such as Bruce Eaton PhD, who has written extensively on the topic of food spoilage and foodborne illnesses.
Check the Temperature
It is important to remember that one should bring food home and immediately put it in the refrigerator. It may be easy to forget a packet of ground beef that gets lost among boxes of food, but make sure you find it first and put it away promptly. It should be placed at the bottom of the refrigerator. You may feel it is safer to put it towards the top right under the freezer, but the concern is not so much the meat itself, but the juices that will drip on the food below it.
Also, make sure that if you have had a power outage for any length of time to check to make sure that the meat and dairy did not dethaw. If dethawing did occur, and if your meat and dairy were at room temperature for an hour, you may need to throw it out depending on the time of year.
Don’t Let It Sit
You may enjoy being organized and doing things well in advance. One thing you should avoid doing ahead of time is washing vegetables when you bring them home from the store before putting them in the refrigerator. Moisture tends to attract bacteria, fungus and molds, even if it is fairly cold. Make sure you dry off everything thoroughly before using. This also goes for dishes you wash by hand. Use a good towel to dry off pots, pans, plates and flatware thoroughly. A small puddle of water can become a breeding ground for harmful bacteria, particularly in the summertime.
Symptoms of Foodborne Illness
Most of the illnesses that you can get from spoiled food or kitchen bacteria affect the gastrointestinal tract. Your first symptoms may be a stomach ache followed by vomiting and diarrhea. It is easy to confuse the symptoms of this kind of illness with flu, but it is important to get it checked out because foodborne illnesses can cause more serious sicknesses that can require hospitalization and in some cases, death. If you suspect you are suffering because of something you ate, see a doctor if the symptoms worsen rapidly. It is particularly important to see immediate medical attention for young children who suffer from gastrointestinal problems, whether the cause is food or not.
Be Safe in the Kitchen
Being safe in the kitchen isn’t confined to storing knives in safe places and making sure that you keep the stove and the gas turned off when not in use. Many of the dangers that occur in the kitchen are caused by things that you cannot see, and many infections can start in the kitchen. Prevent spoilage by storing food at the right temperature and by keeping surfaces dry.