You work hard every day to make sure your food is healthy and sanitary. You shop for the best food; you make sure your chicken is cleaned and your vegetables are scrubbed. But what about your kitchen tools? Do you ever wonder how clean they truly are, or if just a quick cycle in the dishwasher is enough to get them spotless? Everything from forks to ladles comes into contact with your food at some point, so isn’t it only logical to question their level of sanitation?
Your kitchen is home to an abundance of bacteria. Some of the most common species include Salmonella, Escherichia coli (E. coli), and Staphylococcus aureus (commonly known as Staph).
Researchers at the University of Georgia have found that kitchen utensils can spread this bacterium to your food – and then to you! These can lead to a hefty doctor bill that can cause a great financial burden without insurance. There’s no reason to fear, however! Here is a list of kitchen utensils most commonly infected, and what you can do about them.
Sponges are easily the grossest item in your kitchen. In fact, next to the human intestinal tract, kitchen sponges have on the highest densities of bacteria in the world. Sanitization isn’t effective on the bacteria that inhabit the sponge and trying to kill these bacteria can actually cause them to before more resistant. If you’re not willing to give up your sponge, try replacing it at least once a week.
Think of all the stuff you do with your knife. You cut meat; you slice and dice vegetables. It’s easy to see then why cross-contamination is such a huge issue with knives. Luckily, however, unlike your kitchen sponges, you don’t need to throw away your entire knife kit away after one use; you just need to take the extra steps to sanitize it.
Start by washing the knife in warm, soapy water. Taking extra precautions so you don’t cut yourself, wipe the blade on both sides and where it meets the handle. When you’re done, rinse and dry it – preferably with a clean paper towel. In a separate container – one large enough to submerge the knife completely – mix together 1 quart of water and 1 teaspoon of bleach; soak the knife for one minute and allow it to air dry. And, just like that, your knife is perfectly sanitized and ready to get back to work.
As someone who bakes regularly with citrus zest, I understand cleaning graters is difficult. However, all those micro bits of food that get trapped in the grooves become the perfect place for bacteria to grow and infect your food in the future.
The best way to prevent this is to clean it immediately. Run the grater under water and wipe with the blade. Using a toothbrush to scrub it can also be very helpful. When all else fails, run it through a cycle in the dishwasher.
Being mindful of these kitchen bacteria “hotspots” will go a long way in ensuring the health and safety of you and your family. If you do find yourself with any type of food poisoning, be sure to consult your doctor right away.