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Hidden germs lurking in your kitchen

Identifying 5 "Danger Zones" most people miss
Posted at 8:24 AM, Nov 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-07 09:24:16-05

"Sometimes we're on the go. We've got sports and all sorts of stuff."

Carley Rae is always on the go but she's still making time for home cooked meals.

For breakfast, Rae says, "Pancakes, waffles, eggs and bacon. "

And for dinner, she says, "Pasta is really popular. The kids like spaghetti. I make this really good pesto and gnocchi dish. The kids love chicken. "

All that cooking, means a lot of cleaning.

"But you know there's days the dishes are in the sink for probably 24 hours and we just don't care," Rae says.

We can all relate but food safety is no joke.

The CDC says about 1 in 6 Americans get sick from food borne illnesses each year.

And about 3,000 actually die.

Health officials say you can learn from the pros.

Larry Rogers says, "There are 5 risk factors that we look for in professional kitchens, and you can translate that over to your home environment."

#1: Beware of cross contamination.

Rogers says, "Anytime that you use or you're handling any type of raw product and you're using equipment, before you move onto any other equipment you should wash and rinse that equipment."

One major piece of equipment most people forget to wash, is their sink.

'Most people's kitchen sinks have more germs than their toilets. Which is quite remarkable," says Rogers.

Experts suggest washing out your sink regularly and then wiping it down with a sanitizing wipe afterward.

Risk factor #2: Personal hygiene.

Washing your hands is just as important as washing kitchen equipment.

Rogers says, "Because you are handling raw chicken, raw beef, things like that."

Then there's risk factor #3 and #4: Proper holding and cooking temperatures.

"For chicken we wanna hit 165 degrees. A general rule with our steaks and pork cuts, we want to hit 155 and fish 145 is safe," Rogers says.

You should be using a probe thermometer to make sure you're reaching that proper temperature.

Rogers says, "What people need to understand is that raw meat can harbor harmful bacteria. Germs that can make people sick. The way to kill these terms is to heat them up to the proper temperatures."

Finally risk factor #5: Food from a safe source.

Make sure you're buying from a properly licensed business, inspected by the health department.

And keep your perishable foods stored at the right temperature.

Set your refrigerator at 41-degrees or lower and your freezer at 32 degrees or lower.

And always thaw your meats in the refrigerator.

"It's called slacking. It brings it up to that thawed temperature. Never thaw on the counter. Never put something out and just let it sit," says Rogers.

And if you buy frozen vacuum-sealed meat, expert say let it breath.

Rogers say, "You should poke a hole in the packaging to allow oxygen in. There's a certain bacteria that can grow in the lack of oxygen."

One interesting note, Rogers says not everything in your refrigerator needs to be there.

"Mayonnaise is a non-potentially hazardous food. So you can keep mayonnaise on the counter if you wanted to," Rogers says.

The same goes for ketchup and hot sauce.

As for Carley, she's not too worried about the way she's doing things in the kitchen.

But she's happy to be up on the latest healthy habits.

Carley says, "It's good things to know. To be preventative. Obviously making sure that our kitchen sink is always sanitized. When he said a kitchen sink can be dirtier than your toilet, gross!"

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