NFSM Week 3: Can 9,000 Deaths a Year Be Avoided?

Editors Note: This is the third installment of a special series related to September’s National Food Safety Month. View the postings for Week One and Week Two to stay caught up on all things food safety!

Welcome to Week Three of National Food Safety Month! This week, the focus is on “Cleaning and Sanitizing Practices That Will Prevent Cross-Contamination.” Cross-Contamination can be described as the moving of pathogens from one food to another, which is ready to eat and will receive no further cooking. An example would be allowing cooked food to touch uncooked food, or surfaces that were or will be touched by uncooked food.

If you’ve ever watched the popular series, Kitchen Nightmares, then you’ve seen the reaction of Gordon Ramsey when sloppy chefs are careless with kitchen maintenance. Not knowing and not practicing safe cleaning and sanitizing procedures around food can be deadly, as proven by a study conducted by the CDC relating to foodborne illnesses:

“More than 200 known diseases are transmitted through food. The causes of foodborne illness include viruses, bacteria, parasites, toxins, metals, and prions, and the symptoms of foodborne illness range from mild gastroenteritis to life-threatening neurologic, hepatic, and renal syndromes. In the United States, foodborne diseases have been estimated to cause 6 million to 81 million illnesses and up to 9,000 deaths each year.”

Keeping uncooked food separate from ready-to-eat food is essential in preventing cross-contamination.

Washington State University published a great resource for practicing safe food handling and cleaning procedures, and highlighted some excellent tips for ensuring the health of consumers:

  • Clean everything both before and after preparing food. Thoroughly wash your hands, knives, cutting boards, food preparation surfaces, and sink after any contact with raw poultry, meat, seafood, or any other potentially hazardous foods. Finish by rinsing with a commercial kitchen sanitizing solution or a dilute bleach solution (1 teaspoon per quart of water).
  • Keep kitchen cloths and sponges clean. Launder dish cloths and sponges frequently and dry in the dryer to aid in killing pathogens. Sponges can be washed in the dishwasher on a regular basis. Dish sponges and cloths can be sanitized by heating the wet cloth or sponge in a microwave oven for one minute on high. Dishcloths and sponges also can be disinfected while cleaning the sink. Mix a gallon of water and ¾ cup bleach in the sink. Soak cloths in solution 5 minutes. Then rinse and dry the cloths.
  • Use paper towels to clean up spilled juices from meat or poultry.
  • It’s best to have two cutting boards: one for raw meat, fish, and poultry and another one for cooked food, salads, and other food that won’t be cooked before eating. A hard, non-porous cutting board such as one made of acrylic is easier to clean than a wooden board because you can put the acrylic board in the dishwasher. If your cutting board is washed by hand, it should be sanitized frequently.

Between the activities on the NFSM website, and the tips you’ve read here, hopefully you are prepared enough to avoid a visit from Gordon Ramsey. For all of your cleaning and sanitizing needs, visit the RJ Schinner website to view our complete offering of sanitizing wipes, paper towels, bleach and sanitizing solutions, and anything else you might need to protect yourself and your customers from the perils of foodborne illness.

© Copyright Amy Ullsperger, All rights Reserved. Written For: DSR Sales Support Blog

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