Expert says clean kitchens need more than shiny floorsWEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Shiny floors, spotless counters and neatly arranged cupboards are all tell-tale signs of a clean kitchen, right? Not so, says Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service educator Julie Gray.
Gray, a registered dietitian based in Indianapolis, said these things can help, but a truly clean kitchen relies on more than just good looks -- it ensures food safety through the three main operations that are performed there: food storage, food handling and cooking.
"Millions of people contract food-borne illness each year," Gray said. "Most don't realize they have it; they think they have the 24-hour flu. Proper food handling practices can help people avoid these food-borne illnesses."
One trap people fall into, Gray said, is the belief that "We always do it that way, and no one ever gets sick." But that doesn't mean it won't happen. Many people are simply unaware that some of their food-handling practices can be dangerous.
To check out their food safety habits, consumers can take the following quiz, which is an abbreviated version of a test that appeared in the October 1995 edition of FDA Consumer magazine.
To determine your food-safety savvy, examine your answers based on the following answers and rationale.
"The most common mistakes people make are thawing food outside the refrigerator and not cooking hamburger until it reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit," Gray said. "But the number one mistake is probably not washing hands or not properly washing hands."
The best habit to form, she said, is to wash hands frequently -- after handling uncooked meats, fish or poultry; before touching food after handling money; and after using the bathroom. Proper hand-washing involves using soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Gray suggests keeping liquid soap at all household sinks.
The entire test is available on the Web at http://www.fda.gov/fdac/features/895_kitchen.html. Or for a free copy of the entire food safety test, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Gray at the Marion County Cooperative Extension Service, 9245 N. Meridian St., No. 118, Indianapolis, IN 46260-1874.
Source: Julie Gray, (317) 848-7351; e-mail, email@example.com
Writer: Jane Houin, (765) 423-2890; e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail, email@example.com