Written by Rainy McEwan
Washing isn’t just for hands!
Washing your hands before working with food is a crucial first step, but we must remember to wash our produce as well. Fruits and veggies can come with a little dirt still on them, as well as pesticides used in the growing process.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human services recommends using water only. Soaps and commercial produce washes may leave residues on your produce that can be harmful to your body, or at least don’t taste very good!
Scrub brushes can be used for more hardy produce with a natural outer “shell” such as a cucumber or potato. Luckily, if you don’t want to worry about finding a sink to enjoy your apple, just grab a bag marked “pre-washed” and you’re good to get munching!
What Not to Wash
One thing that should never be washed is meat! Raw meat has bacteria on it that, while killed in the cooking process, can be harmful if transferred to other food or prep materials in the kitchen. When washing raw meat, some of the bacteria gets sprayed off by the strong jet of water, and lands on the items around it. This is called cross-contamination. It can also happen when you touch something such as raw meat, a dirty dish, or even your hair, then touch another food or prep item.
Eggs bought from the store also do not need to be washed. When laid, eggs have a natural outer coating on them to protect the porous shell from invading bacteria. Eggs are washed at the facility before having a layer of edible mineral oil applied, which adds the layer of protection back before being shipped to the store. That’s why eggs bought at the store have to be refrigerated, while farm fresh eggs can be safe on the counter.
Give the Board a Bath
Scrubbing down the kitchen should be part of your cooking cleanliness routine as well. Make sure to wash all cutting boards, knives, dishes, utensils, and counter tops after using them to prepare food. Prevent cross-contamination by keeping separate cutting boards for produce and meats, as well as using different utensils to attend to them while cooking. If you want to add another layer of sanitation, after washing, scrub down surfaces with a solution of 1 tablespoon unscented liquid chlorine bleach to 1 gallon of water .
Hand Washing: The Final Frontier
Hands: we’re always using them! That’s why they’re the most important thing to wash. Before preparing any food, wash your hands using hot water and plenty of soap. Scrub for 20 seconds (To keep track of the time, try singing the alphabet!) Then just rinse and dry (Using paper towels or a clean kitchen towel, of course!) Make sure to get under the nails, between the fingers, and up around the wrists as well! Hands should be rewashed after handling food, using the bathroom, touching a pet, another person, or yourself, and after sneezing, coughing, or blowing your nose. After all, you wouldn’t rub your dinner all over a door handle!
If you want to prepare early, Global Handwashing Day is only 6 months away! Stock up on soap for October 15th!