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How to eliminate germs in your kitchen

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By (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-journal
Sunday, Oct. 13, 2013, 5:57 p.m.
 

When was the last time you cleaned your refrigerator crisper or meat drawer or washed your can opener? If it's been a while, you might want to clean up your act — or at least your kitchen. A public health and safety organization called NSF International found potentially harmful microorganisms such as E. coli, salmonella and listeria on kitchen items that are often used for food preparation or storage.

Salmonella, listeria and some types of E. coli are among the many causes of foodborne illnesses, which sicken about 48 million Americans a year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The infections can range from mild to life-threatening but often are written off by people as brief stomach bugs.

Here are cleaning tips to get rid of kitchen germs from NSF Iinternational:

Refrigerator vegetable compartment: Remove the drawer from the refrigerator if possible. Use a clean sponge or soft cloth, and wash the bin with a mild detergent mixed with warm water. Rinse with tap water and wipe dry with a clean towel. To help control odors, use warm water mixed with a baking soda solution (about 1 to 2 tablespoons of baking soda to 1 quart of water). Rinse and wipe dry. Clean monthly.

Refrigerator meat compartment: Remove the compartment/drawer from the refrigerator if possible. Use a clean sponge or soft cloth and wash the bin with a mild detergent mixed with warm water. Rinse with tap water and wipe dry with a clean towel. To help control odors, use warm water mixed with a baking soda solution (about 1 to 2 tablespoons of baking soda to 1 quart of water). Rinse and wipe dry. Clean monthly and whenever you see any spilled meat juices.

Blender gaskets: Unplug the blender, and remove the blender jar from the base. Completely disassemble the jar, removing the blade and gasket at the bottom. If dishwasher safe, place all pieces in the dishwasher after each use. If hand washing, wash the gasket, blade assembly, jar and lid thoroughly in hot soapy water, rinse and dry before re-assembling. Perform this cleaning procedure after each use.

Can opener: Place the can opener in the dishwasher after each use (if dishwasher safe). If hand washing, wash the can opener in hot soapy water, rinsing thoroughly with clean tap water before air drying after each use. If hand washing, pay special attention to the area around the cutting blades to be sure all food residue is removed.

Rubber spatula: For two-piece spatulas, it's important to separate the handle from the spatula portion and, if dishwasher safe, place both sections in the dishwasher after each use. If hand washing, wash in hot soapy water, rinsing thoroughly with clean water. For one-piece spatulas, if dishwasher safe, place in the dishwasher after each use. Otherwise, hand wash thoroughly in hot soapy water, paying special attention to the area where the handle joins the spatula. Rinse thoroughly and dry.

Food storage container with rubber seal: If dishwasher safe, place the container and the lid in the dishwasher and wash after each use. If hand washing, wash the container and lid in hot soapy water, paying special attention to the area around the seal as well as any grooves where the cover attaches to the container. Rinse thoroughly and allow to air dry.

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