Health

Kick these bad kitchen habits to prevent food poisoning

You may think you have an iron stomach, but just one bout of food poisoning can take you out for days with symptoms like severe diarrhoea and vomiting, and it can happen quickly and without warning too.

Avoid this situation by taking precaution and ditching these dirty habits in the kitchen.

WASHING RAW MEAT

It may seem like a dirty habit not to wash meat, but washing meat is actually what may cause you to have food poisoning.

Experts explain that the contaminated water from washing meat can splash on work surfaces, your clothes, nearby dishes, as well as all around the sink, spreading bacteria that may make your stomach churn.

LEAVING FOOD OUT

If you leave food on the stove overnight, you are taking a gamble and attracting unwanted insects.

All leftovers and cooked food should be chilled within two hours or tossed, as bacteria grows rapidly between 4 and 60 deg C. The same precautions should be taken if you are bringing food across town for a picnic - be sure to use a cooler bag.

USING OLD, DIRTY SPONGES

Sponges are prime bacteria breeding grounds, and using a shabby old one means you could be spreading bacteria to the dishes you are cleaning, your hands, and other surfaces you wipe with the sponge.

Throw out sponges every one to two weeks, or better yet, buy a silicone sponge. They clean and scrub well, plus they are non-porous and thus less likely to harbour bacteria and odours.

DRYING DISHES WITH A DISH RAG

Drying dishes with a damp dish rag can be dangerous.

In one study, a whopping 89 per cent of dishcloths contained fecal coliforms, and E. coli bacteria, which can cause cramping and bloody stools, was found in more than a quarter of the dish rags.

Worse, if the towels also had salmonella bacteria, it was found that the bacteria could survive even washing and drying. Perhaps it is best to just let crockery air dry instead.

MIXING RAW AND COOKED FOODS

Do not let raw meat and seafood hang out with cooked foods, or ingredients you are going to eat without cooking.

As you can imagine, by doing so, you may accidentally cause cross-contamination, transferring bacteria from the meat and seafood to foods you are going to eat without heating to kill the bacteria. That is a recipe for disaster.

USING WRONG CUTTING BOARD

Is a plastic board more hygienic than a wooden one? Apparently not.

Even though wood is porous, scientists explain that knife marks on plastic breeds and holds onto bacteria, whereas knife marks on wood blocks are not as deep, and wood draws bacteria inside where they dry out and die.

This article was first published in Shape (www.shape.com.sg)

WELLNESS & BEAUTY