Headline news of Canada News Wire, December 17, 2003: Home is the source of half of infectious intestinal illnesses, study shows. “The home is the source of about half of all intestinal illnesses in Ontario, according to a study published in the International Journal of Food Protection. The study, co-authored by Professor Marilyn Lee of Ryerson University and published in the June issue of the Journal, looked at more than 44,000 reported cases of intestinal illness in Ontario between 1997 and 2001 and found that half had their origin in the home.”
Which room in your home would you believe to be the most prone to disease causing bacteria? It is not the bathroom as many would suspect but rather it is your kitchen which is a hot spot for microbes. Your common household disinfectant has been found to be effective against bacteria that cause food borne illnesses, and research has been proven that with regular use the incidence of food borne illnesses declines greatly. Dr. Charles Gerba, a microbiologist at the University of Arizona, Tucson, and his colleagues conducted a study by sampling sites within 15 different homes. They found the highest levels of contamination to be in areas that remain damp, such as kitchen sponges and rags, kitchen sinks and the kitchen faucet handle. Kitchen counters, cutting boards and refrigerator handles should also be disinfected regularly. They found that regular cleaning had little effect on the bacteria but by regularly using disinfectants the bacteria level was reduced by 95%. They found the main cause of disease causing bacteria in the kitchen to be raw meat.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN KEEPING A HEALTHY AND BACTERIA FREE KITCHEN
Replace kitchen sponges and rags often, at least once a week. Sponges can be disinfected by putting them in the dishwasher. Wash dish rags in the washing machine then dry on high heat.
– Cutting boards are breeding grounds for bacteria. Wash with regular dish detergent then sanitize with a disinfectant. Keep two cutting boards, one for meat and one for fruits and vegetables. You may also put your cutting board in the dishwasher for sanitizing purposes.
– Kitchen counter tops should be disinfected regularly.
– Disinfect refrigerator handles, sinks and drains and sink faucets regularly.
PROPER HANDLING AND PREPARATION OF FOOD
The improper handling and preparing of food is also a major cause of food borne illnesses in the home. A very simple but often overlooked basic exercise in food safety is the thorough washing of hands before handling food. This will greatly reduce the risk of food contamination. When washing your hands, make sure to use a rubbing motion for 20 seconds because this rubbing does make a difference in removing pathogens.
HELPFUL AND HEALTHY TIPS TO AVOID FOOD CONTAMINATION:
– When grocery shopping, purchase your frozen and refrigerated items last and put them into the refrigerator or freezer promptly.
– Use different dishes for raw and cooked food.
– Defrost food in the refrigerator or microwave, not on the counter.
– Cook foods thoroughly and do not eat raw or partially cooked eggs.
– Cool and promptly store leftovers by either putting in refrigerator or freezer. Remember bacteria grow at room temperature.
– Don’t leave perishable foods out more than two hours.