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When it comes to the kitchen, our daily rituals and considerations are limited to stocking the larder or finding great recipes to keep our menus interesting. Given that kitchens are the centre of our homes, it is also imperative to think about measures that keep it clean and hygienic. This extends to curbing common ailments that might emanate from cross-contamination of food, or unintended exposure to germs. Food poisoning is chief amongst them and can be caused by unwashed hands, improperly cleaned kitchen surfaces or kitchen storage units.
ITC Savlon gives us a look at the most insidious culprits behind ailments caused by cross-contamination as stated in research papers and scientific journals:
*The multiple uses of home kitchens provide the risky potential to introduce an array of pathogens (germs) that can spread to foods, proliferate, and result in illness. Some of the pathogens that have been confirmed in home kitchens include Salmonella, pathogenic Escherichia coli, S. aureus, and Campylobacter
*One of the dirtiest corners of your home is the kitchen sink that can be brimming with all kinds of bacteria -- the reason is that we are not only doing dishes in the sink but we are also inviting bacteria from washing fruits and veggies, juice from raw poultry, etc.
*Hands are a major vehicle for spreading pathogens around the kitchen or cooking corners as they come in direct contact with the raw food multiple times while the meal is prepared. Thus, hand washing is critical to preventing cross-contamination.
*Potentially contaminated areas in the kitchen like refrigerator handles, tap handles, sink drain areas, dishcloths, and sponges are touched during meal preparation. It becomes very important to clean these contact surfaces as studies have shown the presence of germs on such surfaces as well.
*High numbers of E. coli last in dishcloths for at least 48 hours. Therefore, dishcloths and sponges become heavily contaminated with a diverse array of microbes, harbouring and spreading contamination to hands, kitchen equipment, and contact surfaces.
With this awareness of germ-load and risk factors, let's look at tips to avoid such risks. Interventions like the ones listed below will go a long way into making.
Use products with Anti-microbial agents
Ensure cleaning agents have well-known and safe anti-microbial agents. The products with anti-microbial agents are known to be effective against a wide variety of illness-causing germs without having adverse effects on health.
Look for combo products that clean and disinfect
Instead of using a two-step time-consuming method where we have to first use a detergent/soap-based cleaner and then reaching for a disinfectant fluid for a wipe down, use a trusted product that has both -- disinfectant as well the cleaner. This product, like the one from Savlon, will save time by combining the actions of a cleaner and a disinfectant in one go as it will easily wipe down the kitchen counter, the knobs of the hob, the cutting board (followed by a quick water rinse), the cabinet handles that we tend to touch the most to reach for masalas and the refrigerator handle at the end of each cooking session. Additionally, fresh fragrances like citrus fragrances add to the clean & disinfected kitchen.
Have a good hand wash readily available in the kitchen
If food is prepared with germ-ridden hands it increases the risk of getting exposed to viruses, bacteria, etc. While we have handwashes planted in bathrooms and near washbasins, we should also ensure that an effective handwash is also kept handy near the kitchen sink. Wash your hands before, and during meal preparation to ensure germs don't find their way onto your dinner plate.
By sanitizing your kitchen surfaces and equipment, and having a cleaning ritual in place, you can create a kitchen environment that follows optimal hygiene levels and the importance of this shouldn't be taken lightly.