Nutrition-wise blog

Does your kitchen need a spring cleaning?

By Jennifer K. Nelson, R.D., L.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D. April 6, 2011

As you start your spring cleaning, ask yourself whether your kitchen needs extra attention. Would it hold up to a health and safety inspection like the ones restaurants undergo?

A food safety quiz developed by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health can help you answer that question. (The link to the quiz appears in the reference list.) More than 10,000 home cooks completed the quiz between 2006 and 2008, and the results were surprising. Nearly 40 percent got a grade of C or lower.

 Here's a taste of the questions:

  • When cooking food to serve later, do you rapidly cool and place it in the refrigerator?
  • Do you have a working refrigerator thermometer?
  • Do you store raw meat below other food in the refrigerator (so it can't drip on other food)?
  • Before preparing food, do you remove all jewelry from your hands? Do you keep your fingernails trimmed?
  • Are your kitchen shelves and cabinets clean and free of dust?

If you said no to any of these questions, you're not alone. Anywhere from one-fourth to one-half of home cooks fail to follow these basic food safety practices. Other important but commonly missed safety precautions include:

  • Sanitizing cutting boards in the dishwasher, with hot soapy water or with a solution of bleach and water
  • Thoroughly washing fruit and vegetables
  • Having soap and paper towels readily available for hand washing
  • Washing and sanitizing sponges and kitchen rags daily
  • Making sure the kitchen floor, ceiling and walls are clean

I don't know about you, but I don't want to eat in a restaurant that can't pass inspection. Why should it be different for my kitchen? I'm going to focus my spring cleaning on cleaning up my kitchen. I'm going to give my refrigerator, stove and oven a thorough cleaning — and I'll wipe down the cupboards too. How about you?

- Jennifer

4 Comments Posted

Apr. 06, 2011