In culinary school one learns about food safety, cross contamination, proper cooling and food storage techniques, but it was only when I began working in a hotel kitchen that I came to appreciate the importance of maintaining proper health and safety practices.
Routine unannounced health inspections could be carried out anytime, so in preparation it was very important that health and safety practices were maintained at all times.
Of course, sometimes it was tempting to overlook a few minor health violations in the hope that the health inspector might not visit anytime soon, but we all knew that the best practice was to treat every day as the day an inspector would show up.
In the food service industry, everybody knows what that visit means. Any health violation and a commercial food kitchen could be subject to further re-inspections, temporary closure or automatic closure.
When it comes to restaurants, public health officials try to prevent food borne illnesses by performing routine safety inspections (at least, I hope so), but who is checking up on you?
I am sure that most of us feel confident that we know how to keep our homes clean and generally safe, but today I want you to ask yourself this question; “Assuming my home kitchen was a restaurant kitchen would it pass an inspection”?
We talk a lot about healthy cooking but what about cleaning? What happens in the place you prepare the foods that will contribute to your healthy lifestyle? Keeping a clean and sanitary kitchen is part of cooking.
Regardless of eating or cooking habits, a healthy lifestyle requires that food remains uncontaminated and fresh.
You might not be serving crowds of people every day and have the responsibility of public health, but the cleanliness and safety of your kitchen does greatly affect your family’s well-being.
There is a saying that the kitchen is the heart of the home. While there are many places where germs can hide in the home, the kitchen is one of the places most susceptible to hygiene problems.
So what can we do to eliminate some of the bacteria hiding in our kitchens?
I’ve got a few basic tips that will get you started on keeping your kitchen safe and healthy.
The first thing I was told on my first day as I walked into the kitchen was to wash my hands. Instinctively, my eyes turned to the kitchen sink but I was immediately told by the executive chef who was taking me around that, “You are not allowed to wash your hands in the kitchen sink”.
Before I could ask any question, he explained “wherever your hands have been, the same germs will be in that sink where you will be washing tomatoes”.
He then went on to show me where the hand sink was. As much as handwashing is important to kitchen safety and hygiene, where you wash it is also important.
Always wash your hands before you prepare or cook food somewhere else and not in the kitchen sink. The same goes for using the toilet.
Ironically, the item we use to clean in the kitchen is often the one that spreads the most bacteria. Of all the items in the kitchen, sponges are infamous for carrying the most germs. Perhaps the easiest way to avoid bacteria growth around the kitchen is to clean or replace sponges often.
Sanitise your sponge daily by boiling it in hot water for 5 to 10 minutes or by soaking it in a little bleach mixed in water and replace sponges that are old or worn out to stop the spread of bacteria.
And finally, keep counter tops, sinks, stove tops, fridges, microwave, rubbish bins and other areas clean and free of debris. Surfaces that make contact with food should be washed, rinsed and sanitised regularly.
Cleaning kitchen surfaces is as much a function of health and hygiene as it is good housekeeping.
In order to ensure that the kitchen is a safe place to prepare meals, cleaning has to be done regularly and thoroughly. Many food related illnesses could be prevented if we all just follow simple hygiene tips.
You might think your kitchen is perfectly clean, but good kitchen sanitation is about more than appearances. Be vigilant about storage, preparation and cleaning. Although you may never get a health violation code from the public health department, at least you know you are serving a meal that is wholesome for your family and friends.
If your kitchen is clean enough to pass a health inspection test, it is clean enough to keep your family healthy.
I don’t know about you, but I would be hesitant about eating in a restaurant that has done poorly or failed a health inspection.
Why should it be different for my kitchen? It is the heart of the home, right?
Source: The Mirror