There’s a great debate in the countertop industry about which countertops breed bacteria and which ones do not. I think it’s all hype. It doesn’t matter if you have a Corian, granite or wood countertop. They all breed bacteria. While wood offers more crevices for bacteria to flourish in, the grout around granite and Corian countertops is an equal opportunity locale for bacteria to breed in. Stainless steel is far less porous than any other countertop material, and easier to sterilize, but improper food handling can deem your expensive stainless steel countertop as toxic to your intestines as wood can. Consider that most restaurants have stainless steel counters in their kitchens, and the Center for Disease Control reports that 71 percent of foodborne illnesses are from restaurant food.
Christmas is a particularly risky time for foodborne illnesses, since people who are unfamiliar with handling large amounts of poultry are handling, um, large amounts of poultry. No countertop material can protect you from foodborne illness. Instead, these steps can. Wait — first, read this exhaustively thorough guide to cooking poultry safely from the USDA.
1. Before you prepare Christmas dinner, sterilize your counters, sink, and cutting boards. First, scrub them with hot (boiling) soapy water (and then throw out the sponges you used to scrub them). Then spray a solution of bleach and water on them. Wipe off the bleach solution with disposable paper towels. If you’re all natural and won’t use bleach, you can use vinegar. Generally I’m natural at home, but when cooking a large meal for a crowd, I pull out the big guns and use bleach to prep my kitchen counter and cutting boards.
2. It’s more environmentally friendly to use dish towels than paper towels, but they breed bacteria like nobody’s business. If you’re handling poultry, meat or raw eggs, just use paper towels. If you can’t bear to throw away paper towels, then be sure to have a stock of clean dish towels on hand so that when one gets contaminated with raw meat or eggs, you can replace it with a clean one.