Those of you who follow KaboodleMum on Facebook will know that I recently attended a Food Hygiene course.
It went really well and I am confident that I will pass with flying colours. The thing is though, I don’t feel that I have only benefited by learning about how to keep a kitchen clean in just a workplace, I feel that the things I did learn can be easily transferred to our home too.
I figured I would share my new found knowledge with you guys and hopefully we’ll all benefit!
Food Hygiene at home!
well, kind of…
Everything that I learned on the course was so that if I ever found myself in a commercial kitchen, I would know how to look after the food to avoid any contamination. There were certain things that I picked up that I felt would be useful at home too. It’s not all food based to be honest, a lot of it is central to the things I found out about bacteria and how to prevent it from growing or spreading. I often found myself thinking about our home while we discussed certain things on the course. So I thought I would share some things that I learned and what I’ll be doing differently from now on.
Cleaning my wash cloths at a higher temperature.
What I found out during the course is that there is a ‘temperature danger zone.’
What that means is that between the temperatures of 5°C and 63°C (41°F – 145°F) bacteria grow quickly. They Rapidly grow at body temperature which is 37°C (98.6°F). That’s right, at around our body temperature bacteria are LOVING life.
When I do a load of washing, I almost always wash my cleaning cloths too, there’s always a dirty one laying around so I just chuck it in with the rest of the stuff.
Here’s the thing, I wash all my clothes at 30°C. That temperature is almost smack-bang in the middle of the temperature danger zone. I am not killing any germs** when I wash my cleaning cloths at 30°C – I am actually giving them the perfect conditions to breed in.
** Fun Fact – Washing powders and gels are detergents – detergents DO NOT kill germs.
So, from now on, I will be washing them by themselves at a hotter temperature.
On a side note; bacteria will only start to die once the temperature they’re exposed to reaches or exceeds 73°C. Food cooked to or above this temperature are safe to eat, so long as they’re fully cooked throughout, that is.
Cleaning all my tables twice. Sort of.
As I mentioned above, detergents don’t kill germs. I wasn’t necessarily shocked when I was told this, but it did make me think. We have four furry children in this house, three of which walk on all our tables, side boards, units, window shelves and kitchen worktops. They walk and do their business in the garden and I’m forever wiping up mucky paw prints. I’ve always used a cleaning spray but it’s just a cleaning spray. It’s just a detergent. It has no germ killing power. In order to clean and cleanse my worktops, I would need a cleaner that is a disinfectant. Disinfectants work differently, they DO kill germs but, on the down side, they don’t remove dirt or grease.
To make sure that I am cleaning up the germs my furry babies are bringing in from the garden I would have to clean the tables twice; once with a detergent to clean away the dirty paw prints and again with a disinfectant to remove the germs.
Alternatively, I could go out and buy a sanitizer. Sanitizers are chemicals that remove dirt and grease as well as disinfect the area being cleaned. This is what I will be buying from now on. Check the label of the products you buy and think about switching to a sanitizer or buying a disinfectant to wipe areas with after you have cleaned them.
Always read the label to make sure that you’re using your chosen product to its full potential.
Invest in ways to contain foods.
I can’t count the amount of times I have spilled something in the fridge or on the worktops or left something on the counter top only to come back and find teeth marks and paw prints in them.
Normally, I wouldn’t bother with putting something over the top of foods or storing things in containers, apart from biscuits, of course, since they have their own tin anyway! I normally just admit defeat and hope nothing spills, the cats don’t get their claws into it and that I don’t accidently drop anything that the dog can scupper.
What I would like to do though, is just invest in a couple of small containers for things to be stored in the fridge. Storing things in containers also reduces the chance of cross-contamination. I mean, I wont lie, I’ve had a chicken breast or two loose on a plate in the fridge, the juices could have easily have dripped into a packet of something and one of us would be the sorry ones because I hadn’t taken my time to store the raw chicken properly.
A great thing I learned was that any raw meats should be stored below anything else in the fridge, not the bottom shelf of the fridge, literally, below ANYTHING else in the fridge. I am going to be a little more careful in the future and store any raw meats I buy, inside the salad drawer and put the salad on the bottom shelf instead.
Now, most people who know me or have read my blog for a while will know that I am a germaphobe and that I am also very afraid of any sickness – I don’t mean coughs and colds – I mean tummy bugs that make us sick. It’s one of my worst fears and I am aware that if I were to do much more, I would be going over the top but, those couple of things are quite important to remember, I don’t think that it’s being overprotective or doing to much. I think that they’re really useful things to remember and do, to help keep our home healthy, especially since we have such royal cats that walk over everything.
Preventing sickness is unachievable, that’s probably why I’m so scared of it, because I know there is nothing I can do to prevent it, but, a little here and a little there can only help.
There’s a few other things that I picked up which I know I don’t do at home that I could,
Cracking eggs with a knife.
I crack my eggs on the side of the bowl when I am making anything that includes them. If I were to do that in a commercial kitchen, I would be contaminating the bowl and therefore, the food that’s prepared in that bowl is contaminated. This is because, when a chicken lays an egg, it comes out of where it poos, sometimes chickens poop in the same spot that they lay. Egg shells are porous, therefore, they can’t be cleaned with disinfectants because it would be absorbed into the egg, this making the egg itself inedible. We have our own chickens which we get eggs from and our eggs are normally covered in poop. Like I said, I crack the eggs on the side of the bowl and go about my recipe, without thinking what type of bacteria I could have transferred into the food.
Of course, the bacteria is killed so long as I cook that recipe to a heat higher than the kill temperature of 73°C which is why I have never killed anyone who’s eaten my cakes. Still good to remember though!
Washing my fresh veg.
I don’t know about you but I’m a packet buyer. I go to the supermarket and I buy fruit and veg that are pre-packaged. I’ve always been under the assumption that packed fresh foods are clean and ready to eat, and that’s what I do, I take it from the packaging and I use it, without washing it. This mostly stands out to me with carrots, because most fruit I do wipe over but carrots never get washed in our house. I almost always cook them so it’s not necessary a problem, but, I do like to give them raw to Willow to chew and I am also quite partial to eating them raw too. The ground in which they grow are often sprayed with fertilizers and stuff and so this, even though they have been wiped over, will still be present on the carrot. It’s good to give them a rinse and remove any excess bacteria that could be on them.
keeping the animals out of the kitchen while food is being prepared.
My cats and the dog are clean to look at but, like I previously mentioned, they spend time outdoors in the garden and that’s where they do their messy business. I honestly don’t know how many times I have prepared food while simultaneously trying to stop the cats from stealing food from out of my hands. They’re truly a pain in the butt, if they’re not trying to steal the food, they’re patiently waiting somewhere on the worktop for me to make a blunder. While I fight off the cats, the dog sits and waits too, often sniffing around for bits that might get dropped onto the floor. It’s a pain, but it has become a daily ritual here, even though I’m very rarely the one preparing the food, it’s the same for KaboodleDad. He has to stop the cats from walking around on the units and often, at least one of them will have to be picked up and put onto the floor. Truthfully, I know I have grabbed a cat and thrown it onto the floor (not nastily, but I couldn’t think of a better description!) only to get right back into cooking without even so much as going near the sink, let alone actually washing my hands. Keeping the cats and the dog away from the kitchen while we cook would be a good thing to do. Not just for our health but probably for our sanity too!
There is probably more things that we could all do to reduce our exposure to bacteria, but with that said, being exposed to germs can be good for us too. There’s no need for me, or anyone, to be as vigilant at home as food-industry workers are expected to be in the workplace. That would be silly, we don’t need to have colour coded chopping boards at home, we just need to be aware that using the same board to prepare various different foods, without washing in between, would be a very bad idea; especially if we’re preparing any raw meats or fish.
The best way to do things at home is to just be aware of the dangers that raw foods can bring, how to handle raw foods and how to clean up after we’ve handled them. We’re all aware that washing our hands is important, and also, if you do have any furry friends at your house, that using a sanitizer as opposed to using just a detergent will be a little more effective at keeping our fur covered homes healthy.
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