An online survey finds that many home cooks don’t follow basic food-safety standards. Here’s how you can stay safe.
By Emily Main, Rodale.com
What you can do
Refrigerate food as soon as possible to prevent bacterial growth, and make sure you take your fridge’s temperature every now and then.
You’re a clean cook: You keep meats and vegetables separate and you wash your hands obsessively. But that may not be enough to “pass inspection,” according to the results of a new survey. The Los Angeles Department of Public Health recently decided to see how home chefs would fare if they were to be scrutinized under the same food-safety standards as restaurants, and they found many to come up wanting. While you may have avoided some of their mistakes, there are other less-obvious tactics that every wannabe master chef could utilize to keep a safer kitchen.
THE DETAILS: The Los Angeles Department of Public Health created a modified version of its rating system for restaurants and posted it online. Any homeowner could take the test and see how well his or her kitchen would fare were it to be rated by the local health department’s food-safety standards. Very few people would have passed with flying colors, the department found. Just over one third, 34 percent, scored an A (between 90 and 100), while 52 percent scored B’s and C’s (70 to 89 points). Fourteen percent would have failed. The biggest mistake people made was not cooling leftovers fast enough, followed by not having a working thermometer in their refrigerator. Third was not removing jewelry or keeping fingernails trimmed when cooking.
WHAT IT MEANS: Kitchen safety is more than just using separate cutting boards for raw meat and vegetables (which, according to the results of this survey, seems to be pretty standard practice in homes nowadays). The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has four basic food-safety principles it likes homeowners to follow: Clean, separate, cook, chill.
Read on for important safety tips you that will keep your kitchen grade-A safe.