I have noticed the growing lack of awareness in home kitchen sanitation, while some people may think that they run a fairly clean kitchen when really there are at least 5 violations that the majority of us make every day in our home kitchens. By having these violations, we endanger ourselves and those we live with especially those of us with children.
Violation #1: Organizing the Refrigerator
Many times we come home from the supermarket hauling in five bags of groceries on each arm with another two back in the car, we find ourselves in a hurry to get everything in the fridge as fast as possible which leads to the things being haphazardly thrown into the fridge turning it into a game of “Grocery-TETRIS”. In the end most things end up in places they should not be and your food is exposed to possible contamination. You always need to keep in mind the golden rule of “what goes up, must come down”, in that what ever is on the top rack has to be safe to fall and spill on the things bellow. What I see taking space on the top/upper shelves in most people’s kitchens is eggs or raw meats (i.e. raw chicken, pork, beef). The bacteria carried in raw meats tend to cause nausea, vomiting and other symptoms resembling the Flu, and one the best way to prevent those bacteria from contaminating the rest of your fridge is to place them on the lower shelves of your fridge.
-What is O.K.-
Upper Shelves: Juices/ Milk / Bottled condiments/ Produce/ Ready to eat foods
Lower Shelves: Raw meats/ Eggs
-What is not O.K.-
Upper Shelves: Uncovered tray of marinating chicken breasts
Lower Shelves: Birthday Cake
Violation #2: Aftermarket Egg Holders
This is one that many people never really think of but it is one that not only puts you in danger but also waists your money, the egg holder. I never understood why people would by an egg holder to keep in their fridge when they already come in a carton. Milk normally comes in a carton but I never see anyone by a special pitcher for milk, maybe the new egg hold really ties the fridge together but it ends up cost you time cleaning it out if an egg breaks inside. The flaws really show when people don’t clean out the holder and the yolk leaves a sticky surface in the holder that traps the next egg to be placed there which will inevitably crack as well and continuing this vicious cycle of cracked eggs and shattered dreams of omeletts that will never be. Thanks to the egg carton, countless eggs are transported everyday from farms and factories to your local grocery store where they make the final trip to your fridge; if the container can sustain such a trip, I am sure it can handle sitting in your fridge.
Violation #3: Wooden Cutting Boards
I have nothing against having a wooden cutting board, I own one myself, what I have an issue with is the faith in their versatility of uses. The wooden cutting board should only be used for produce or cooked meats, the reason being that wood will absorb any moisture and warp or bend. When you cut raw chicken on the wood the juices go into the wood, and the only way to properly clean it is by putting it in the dishwasher. The heat from the dishwasher will warp the wood overtime and will begin to rock as you cut making it an unsafe cutting surface. When you use it to cut cooked meats and produce, the washing shouldn’t have to go beyond a thorough wash with anti-bacterial soap and water. Keep in mind that all wooden cutting boards will eventually warp but putting it through the extreme temperature changes of a dishwasher will speed up the warping process.
Violation #4: First in First Out
I cannot begin to imagine how many multiple containers of the same item that have been opened I have seen in people’s homes. I think it is a combination of lack of communication and some laziness, perhaps someone will say,”we are running out of ‘X’, we need more” when there is still a 1/4 of it left. Then when the new container is put in the fridge, most of us will not think to look for the older container first and will just grab the new full one. After a few weeks of this process, people are shocked at the sight of three bottles of “X” all relatively at the same levels sitting in the fridge. Though some would think nothing of this, remember that all three bottles were not bought at the same time and have different expiration dates so by not finishing what you had bought first you will run the risk of it spoiling before you can get around to use it. Restaurants everywhere around the world follow the basic rule of “first in, first out” to save money and keep a consistent inventory a rule that every home should employ.
Violation #5: Teaching awareness to children (This is my personal view as a parent, I know I am not a expert on parenting it is simply my opinion)
I know that there are those “Super-Parents” who know everything there is to know about the kitchen and being safe, but often that knowledge stays with them. We teach our children how to ride a bike, brush their teeth, dress themselves and sometimes arm and disarm the house alarm but I almost never see parents teaching their kids how to cook for themselves. I am not saying that they should be learning how to debone a chicken along with tying their shoes but at least know what is okay to eat and what it should look like when it is safe to eat, and when they are capable and mature enough then they can begin cooking at home with you. A few years ago the daughters (14 yrs, 13 yrs) of a client of mine came into the kitchen and began to prepare a chicken breast to cook in a pan. After using a fork to put the chicken in the pan one of the girls tried to use the same fork to grab a piece of fruit off the table, I was able to stop her before anything was cross contaminated. She was a perfectly intelligent girl but she was just never taught about the bacteria found in raw meats and how it would have contaminated the rest of the fruit in the bowl had she used the fork. Even though families who have both parents working to give their children a good life, as parents, they have have to trust the children to look after themselves in some aspects. Even though some families can afford a nanny, not every nanny knows how to prepare food the right way. It is part of preparing your children for the real world and it is something that they could pass on their children as well.