The kitchen is a central room in anyone’s house, and is often the most used. It can however, be the most dangerous as the surfaces, utensils and cloths contained in the kitchen can harbour many serious, sometimes lethal germs that can have a very negative effect on health.
What are the Most Common Germs Found in the Kitchen?
Many food items have the potential to be contaminated with salmonella. This type of bacteria can not only be found in meats and animal carcasses and passed to humans through the meat not being cooked thoroughly, but from contact with contaminated hands, surfaces, utensils and even from places such as door handles and buttons if they have been touched by a contaminated hand. Listeria is another type of bacteria that is carried in animals. It can be brought into the domestic environment by purchasing foods that are contaminated. The bacteria can then be passed between people and objects by cross-contamination. E-coli is yet another germ that can be found in food products. Though rare, this can also be fatal in some people. Again it is spread through contamination of hands, surfaces or utensils.
How Will These Affect Health?
Bacteria can breed at an alarming rate and within just a few hours, enough bacteria may have been produced to cause very serious illness. Salmonella for example can result in very nasty stomach upsets presenting with diarrhoea and vomiting which may be accompanied by chills, shaking, headaches and generally feeling unwell. These symptoms can last up to three days so it is important to ensure dehydration doesn’t occur by taking plenty of water sipped slowly. Listeria can potentially be fatal. It can present with many symptoms that can be confused with many other illnesses such as fever, headache and muscle stiffness. E-coli causes stomach upset leading to dehydration, headaches and in some cases bloody stools.
Preventing Illness and Protecting Health
The easiest way to prevent illness from occurring is to use some basic common sense and by following a few fundamental guidelines. Always ensure surfaces are cleaned after use with an anti-bacterial agent. These do not have to be the most expensive ones form the supermarket, as the cheaper varieties work in the same way.
Door handles, switches, the handle of the kettle, in fact any surface that comes into contact with human hands, animals or food products will need cleaning. Doors, the insides of cupboards and even inside the fridge will all benefit from regular cleaning And will help prevent the spread and development of bacteria. Before and after any food preparation has taken place, surfaces and utensils should be either wiped down with detergent or an anti-bacterial product or washed thoroughly with hot soapy water.
One of the main sources of bacteria in the kitchen is actually the cloths used for washing and drying. These items can hold more harmful bacteria than anywhere else in the house. Always immerse your cloth or sponge in hot water to kills of germs, and use an anti-bacterial agent when cleaning with it.
It is advised that sponges and cloths are replaced daily to ensure optimum bacterial control. Most shops stock very inexpensive varieties of cloths and sponges, making them more affordable as a frequently disposable item. Tea-towels are another source of harbouring bacteria as they are usually damp and are used frequently to clean and dry the hands. Always allow them to dry out thoroughly between uses and washed and dry often using hot water and a high drying heat. When possible, it is advised that dishes are left to dry naturally in the air instead of using a tea-towel as this prevents the transference of bacteria.
Can openers, bottle openers, bins and taps can all hide germs very easily so ensure these items are cleaned regularly.
Food items, especially meats should be cooked thoroughly and surfaces cleaned immediately after use.
Vegetable should always be washed before use as these items can also harbour some of the mentioned bacteria.
All utensils should be washed in hot soapy water and dried thoroughly before the next use.
The kitchen is one of the most central and busiest rooms in the house. It is vital to protect both yourself and your family from illness by ensuring that bacteria are not allowed to grow or spread. Keeping the area clean using suitable products and methods, and ensuring food items are handled and cooked properly are the easiest ways to minimise any risks.