(This article by Barb Fuller and Laura Sternweis was published Sept. 4, 2014, by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and is reposted here with permission.) September is National Food Safety Education Month and an appropriate way to celebrate is to clean the kitchen, says an Iowa State University Extension and Outreach specialist.

“The kitchen can become a breeding ground for dangerous bacteria. Cleaning your kitchen before you prepare and enjoy foods can protect you and your family from food poisoning,” said Barb Fuller, a human sciences specialist in nutrition and health.

Fuller shared these tips from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

  • Wash your hands often — front and back, between fingers, under fingernails — in warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds (or for two choruses of “Happy Birthday”) before and after every step in preparing or eating foods.
  • Clean all work surfaces often to remove food particles and spills. Use hot, soapy water. Keep nonfood items – mail, newspapers, purses, reusable tote bags — off counters and away from food and utensils. Wash the counter carefully before and after food preparation, as well as items commonly touched such as cabinet knobs and the refrigerator handle.
  • Wash dishes, cutting boards and cookware in the dishwasher or in hot, soapy water, and always rinse them well. Remember that chipped plates and china can collect bacteria.
  • Replace old cutting boards that have cracks, crevices and excessive knife scars.
  • Change towels and dishcloths often and wash them in the hot cycle of your washing machine. Allow them to dry out between each use. If they are damp, they’re the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Throw out dirty sponges or wash them in a bleach-water solution.
  • On any appliance, clean spills up right away. Wash appliances with hot, soapy water. Pay close attention to the refrigerator and the freezer shelves, sides and door where foods are stored.
  • Spills and food splatters inside the microwave also can collect bacteria, so clean it regularly as well.

For more information about food safety from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, visit www.HomeFoodSafety.org.

  • Garbo99

    Nothing on sanitizing at all. Nothing on not washing chicken to prevent invisible splash of bacteria etc. Article is too general with nothing new added IMO. Adding ‘touch points’ is good, but only 2 mentioned.

  • Barb3000

    I noticed that too with no mention of using bleach on anything. All county health departments in every state tell restaurants to keep bottles of a bleach mixture sitting on the kitchen counters. I would never just use hot water and soap to clean up after preparing raw chicken to be put in the freezer.

  • mic

    Obviously, this is not meant to be an all encompassing article about food production in the home environment. Also, it does not have to include the problems of chicken splatter or using bleach
    for cleaning and sanitizing kitchen counters to be an effective message. In that
    regard, if you read the comments in the following article you will see that the
    debate over whether to wash a chicken is still unresolved with some readers. https://www.foodsafetynews.com/2014/08/do-russians-know-more-than-americans-about-food-safety/#.VBDCfGd0wcA

    This short article is only a fundamental guideline for cleanliness in the home kitchen. The purpose, as an extension article, is to provide an introduction to sanitation, not an in-depth
    inspection of all home kitchen related issues. For many, because of age or experience,
    this is the beginning of food safety and sanitation. As one evolves in their
    examination of their own practices there are probably many other articles available
    from local sources like this to advance their knowledge and education.

    As a food safety professional with training and education in the field, I wish that this was posted in every kitchen I walk into. In a lot of my unofficial experience with the public,
    traveling to locations with my child’s sports team, working at concession
    stands or parent/team meal dinners to benefit our school or even just visiting
    neighbors, I have stopped being surprised at the number of people that do not
    possess even this rudimentary knowledge. This piece is not without merit and
    could serve as a positive influence. Blasting it for what it is not is the

  • farmber

    The guidelines state that “The kitchen can become a breeding ground for dangerous bacteria” but not a word about the commercial food SOURCES of that dangerous bacteria that families have to be especially careful about…..


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