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June 18, 2018  |  Login
Green Clean Your Kitchen
By Elizabeth B. Goldsmith PhD, Betsy Sheldon
Your green-living philosophy can smoothly align with the tenets of germ-free kitchens and baths. These rooms pose some of the greatest challenges to clean, let alone clean green. The kitchen is the heart of the house - and the stomach. Food preparation and disposal bring to light issues all their own.

Handling Food Properly

Storing, preparing, and serving food involves more than merely keeping a tidy kitchen: Ensuring that perishable items are stored properly, food surfaces are kept scrupulously clean, and methods of meal preparation eliminate possible cross-contamination is absolutely critical for your safety.

Raw meat and contaminated produce can leave behind dangerous bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella in preparation areas, on knives, and on towels reused for wiping up after spills. Children and the elderly are especially at risk of food-borne illness. Meat, poultry, and eggs have long been considered the biggest threat, but contamination can come from many sources - even packaged spinach. Clean food-handling practices can't prevent all food-borne illnesses, but they sure cut way down on these risks.

Adherence takes strict attention and can sometimes seem a challenge to your environmental principles. After all, many of these steps involve liberal amounts of hot water, or you may be advised to use disposable wipes or towels to avoid contamination. The safe choice may be to throw out quantities of food if its freshness is in question. And your concern about disease and disinfecting may pressure you to use chemicals that are decidedly unhealthy for the planet.

Depending upon how you maintain and care for them, your cleaning implements can serve as your staunch allies for clean - or traitorous enemies. Sponges, dish cloths, mops, and scrubbers tend to be damp mediums that serve as breeding ground for all kinds of gruesome germ life.

Fighting Food Contamination without Chemicals

For the most part, you can keep a clean and safe kitchen and still adhere to your environmental principles. Here are general guidelines for protecting your food from contamination.

  • Keep your refrigerator at the proper settings (36 to 39°F) to ensure that food is cool enough not to spoil.

  • Adhere to the expiration dates on all perishables, especially meat.

  • Keep refrigerated food well wrapped.

  • Keep meat products separate from fruits and vegetables.

  • Place meat on the lowest shelf to reduce risk of juices dripping on other food items.

  • Wash any produce that is to be eaten raw - even if you plan to peel it.

  • Don't prepare vegetables, fruits, or other foods on the same surface or with the same knife used for poultry, beef, pork, or fish, until it has been scrubbed clean with soap and hot water.

  • Use separate cutting boards: one for meat, another for fruits and vegetables, and perhaps even another for bread or other food items. (For more on keeping your cutting boards sanitized, see the next section.)

  • Don't reuse the same cloth towel to wipe up spills from food, especially animal products, including eggs. In some cases, you may feel justified in using paper towel to avoid contamination.

  • Don't reuse plastic bags or packaging that has held poultry or other animal products. more



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