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How Safe is Your Kitchen?

More and more, foodborne illness is in the news and affects millions of people across the United States.  Yet, food safety starts at home.  Austin Hy-Vee Dietitian, Jen Haugen, will take you on a tour through the kitchen to make sure it’s a safe place to prepare meals for the family.

Why is food safety important at home?

  • 72-93% of foods by weight are prepared in the home.
  • Highest risk population for foodborne illness includes a large percentage of the population:  preschool-age kids, pregnant women and the elderly.

Major offenders at home:

  • Dishcloths/sponges (Only 8% change daily)
  • Cutting boards (91% do not adequately wash cutting boards)
  • Reusable grocery bags (only 3% of people clean them, over 50% had E. Coli present)
  • Refrigerator thermometer (only 23% of people use a thermometer)
  • Hand washing (not done consistently for 20 seconds with warm, soapy water)

How to make your kitchen safer?

Wash – Bacteria can survive in many places including hands, utensils and cutting boards.  Proper hand washing can eliminate half of all cases of foodborne illness.  Don’t forget about frequently washing dish cloths and any surfaces with hot, soapy water.  Disinfect sponges with bleach.

Separate – Don’t cross contaminate.  It starts in your shopping cart with raw foods and ends in the kitchen.  Using clean reusable grocery bags, separate cutting boards, and storing properly in the refrigerator.  

Cook – You can’t rely on color and texture to know if a food is safe to eat.  You must use a food thermometer.  Place the thermometer in the thickest part of the food (not touching bone or gristle) and compare the temperature to a food temperature chart.  Wash with hot, soapy water after use. 

Refrigerate – Cool foods quickly to prevent food poisoning.  Leftover foods should not stay out of refrigeration longer than 2 hours (and in cases over 90 degrees, one hour).  Make sure your refrigerator is set below 40 degrees.



Jen Haugen represents Hy-Vee as a nutrition expert promoting healthy eating throughout the community.  Jen is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the leading nutrition professional organization in the country.



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