The filthiest places in your kitchen
When it comes to germs and where we eat, we usually worry about restaurants being unsanitary especially the ones with less than perfect scores from the health department. New studies found that our own kitchen at home is a hotbed of germs, too.
Contamination in the home is definitely something that can cause illnesses and food poisoning. We often try to think back to the last place we ate but that is not always the case.
Researchers say the most common pathogens are staphylococcus aureus, salmonella, campylobacter, and listeria. They were able to isolate these pathogens from essentially all over kitchens, including inside the refrigerators, on the refrigerator door handles, on counters, in sinks and on sponges.
Here are the five areas raising red flags:
- Your Fridge
- Your dishcloths and sponges
- In and around your sink
- Cutting boards
- Anywhere pests and your pets hang out
Improper storage of raw meat or poultry was the biggest mistake according to researchers. It should always be on the lowest shelf in the refrigerator, below ready-to-eat foods and raw fruits and vegetables. One of the reasons to have it on the lowest shelf is that raw chicken or meats could drip down. Not only it is gross, it will also contaminate other foods.
When it comes to setting the temperature of your refrigerator, it should be kept at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 43% of those in the study registered higher than that.
Refrigerators with higher operating temperatures were linked with higher counts of listeria, a bacterium that’s especially dangerous for pregnant woman, older adults and people with weakened immune systems.
The Dishcloths and sponges
Your dishcloths and sponges should be washed and replaced as often as you can. About 45% of households surveyed contained at least one foodborne pathogen, and compared to the other areas of the kitchen, sponges were the dirtiest and grimiest: 64% of them tested positive for bacteria.
According to researchers, dishcloths and sponges are reservoirs for bacteria. And even worse, any bacteria found of them would likely be elsewhere in the kitchen since they’re mostly used to wipe down counters and other areas. Staph or fecal coliforms will spread throughout your kitchen if your dishcloths and sponges are infected with them
Researchers recommend only using them to dry clean hands and dishes. Microwaving sponges for one minute a day-or running them through the dishwasher-can also kill harmful pathogens.
In and around your sink
Fecal bacteria were found in 44% of the kitchens, and E. coli, a related bacterium, was found in 15%-most often in samples from kitchen sinks. If it’s wet, it’s more likely to be nasty according to researchers.
82% of the sinks they visited were visibly dirty and study shows that kitchen sinks were most likely to be dirty. Kitchens that lacked sanitizer, disinfectant products, or soap near the sink also tended to have higher bacterial counts overall.
Because so many different foods are prepared using cutting boards, it’s important to cleaning them between uses and be sure no contaminants-from raw meat or unwashed produce are left behind. 23% of the cutting boards observed in the study appeared dirty, and 76% were worn with deep grooves or cracks in the surface, where bacteria could potentially hide.
Using the counter to cut and prepare food, including raw meat and poultry is just as risky.
Anywhere pests-and your pets-hang out
Researchers observed insects, like ants, roaches, and flies, as well as rodents dropping or bugs traps in 65% of homes. The presence of animals including household pets in food preparation areas could also increase the likelihood of food contamination and the transmission of outside pathogens into the kitchen.
*We recommend cleaning your kitchen as regularly as possible. If and when you do hire a cleaning service company, make sure they are professionals and they will focus on properly clean your home.