What lurks in your kitchen

Daily News Egypt
4 Min Read

If you think you are safe eating in your clean kitchen, think again. The kitchen is the dirtiest place in any home, nurturing millions of unseen germs on each object, surface and crevice.

Every kitchen surface, from doorknobs, knife handles, surfaces to floors is contaminated with teeming bacteria that may cause food borne illness.

With over 50% of food borne illness originating in the home, it makes sense to be aware of where these illness-producing bacteria are lurking in your kitchen, and how to eliminate them.

The worst offending object in your kitchen is the kitchen sponge or dishcloth, most of which harbor large numbers of virulent bacteria that can cause illness including E.coli and strains of Salmonella, Pseudomonas, and Stapylococcus.

Continually wiping up spills and washing counters with the same dirty kitchen sponge or dishcloth only serves to spread the nasty bacteria around the kitchen.

Everlasting moist sponges with microscopic pieces of food provide an ideal nurturing environment for bacteria, which produce gooey tendrils to hang on to the sponge and dishcloth. These bacteria can originate from raw meat or poultry juice, or from spilled milk, eggs, or other animal products that were wiped off the counter.

The next worst bacterial harbor in your kitchen is the kitchen sink, in particular the drain that can be full of millions of harmful bacteria, followed by the cutting board where bacteria hide in the tiny scratched holes, making it difficult to rinse them off with just water.

In order to avoid illness and eliminate these harmful bacteria, stringent hygiene and cleanliness practices must be carried out regularly in the kitchen. Paramount to hygienic practice in any kitchen is hand washing.

By washing your hands regularly with an antibacterial soap and hot water for around 20 seconds at a time, you are eliminating any cross contamination of bacteria that might occur from one source of food or surface to another.

Hand washing is so crucial to reducing illness that the World Health Organization has recently stated that hygiene interventions including promotion of hand washing can lead to a reduction of diarrhea cases by up to 45% worldwide.

To eliminate bacteria in dishcloths and sponges, they should be washed daily in hot soapy water and sanitized with diluted chlorine bleach then dried using high heat.

A steady supply of dishcloths and sponges will prevent the bacteria from festering from one day to the next.

Soapy detergent scrubbed around the sink followed again, by diluted chlorine bleach, will get rid of the germs but the sink must remain dry inbetween use to deter any more bacterial growth.

The cutting board must be scrubbed with soapy water to get rid of the clinging bacteria, and should preferably be a wooden board as opposed to a plastic board, as bacteria clings on more tenaciously to the latter. Bacteria need microscopic amounts of food and water to thrive and multiply to invisible millions, in the span of a few hours. Contamination with these bacteria from your kitchen sponges and surfaces can lead to severe and even life-threatening illness, especially in children, pregnant women or elderly people, who have reduced immunity to harmful bacteria.

Let this be food for thought for action, next time you think your kitchen is clean.

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