How to Avoid Bad Sanitary Behaviors
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There are a lot of dangerous behaviors that don’t belong in a healthy kitchen. Below we list a lot of them.

Work with Food with Dirty Hands

Wash up whenever you enter the kitchen to prepare food. Wash up after handling raw meat, raw poultry, raw eggs, basically raw anything. Wash up well after visiting the lavatory. Many of the pathogens travel through the gastro-intestinal tract to find new hosts.  If you are not clear on good hand washing technique review Exercise 6 where Teaching Chef, Smart Kitchen’s Chef Instructor, demonstrates fastidious technique.

Use Dirty or Soiled Equipment, Linens or Utensils

If your utensils, knives, cookware, cutting boards, equipment, linens or any other tools or materials come in contact with potential pathogen havens like raw meat, poultry, eggs etc. sanitize them before re-using them.  

Keep Foods in The Food Danger Zone

Food safety is Cool – or Hot – just not any internal temperature in between 40°to 140° F (4° to 60° C).The in between temperatures are The Food Danger Zone where bacteria thrive.  

Cross Contaminate

It is easy to accidentally transfer harmful pathogens to cooked or ready to eat foods from other raw foods, used cutting boards, dirty knives and/or utensils.  Keep raw foods and their juices away from already cooked or ready-to-eat foods and fresh produce. When serving food: always use a clean plate. Never place cooked food back on the same plate or cutting board that previously held raw food. If reusing your cutting board that has touched raw, disinfect it by washing under hot water with disinfectant soap or sanitize it.  Another way to avoid the issue is to maintain two cutting boards, one for raw, one for cooked. The route you take will depend on your budget and your kitchen space. When handling foods it is important to “Be Smart & Keep Foods Apart” so that you do not cross contaminate them.  

Prepare Food for Others if you are Sick

If you have a skin or respiratory infection, intestinal problems or a strange rash stay away from other people’s food. You can’t spread food borne disease if you are far from the food. Don’t use a kitchen towel for “personal” reasons like blowing or wiping.  

Sneeze or Cough at Will

Cover up when you sneeze or cough. Many pathogens are dispersed far and wide in the sneeze of cough droplets. 

Taste Foods with your Fingers

Never taste anything with you fingers. Use a fresh clean spoon for each tasting.

Sit on Work Tables or Prep Areas

Your clothes can pick up traveling pathogens that don’t belong on otherwise sanitary food work surfaces.

Excessively Handle & Move your Foods

Handling food as little as possible limits the chance of contamination getting introduced into the food.

Thaw Foods at Room Temperature

We don’t want our foods in The Food Danger Zone with an internal temperature between 40° to 140° F (4° to 60° C), if we can help it, even if they are thawing. Under cool running water or in the refrigerator are the best places for Thawing foods.  

Cool Hot Foods in the Refrigerator

As a best practice, hot foods should be cooled at room temperature, until they are room temperature and then refrigerated because putting excessive amounts of heat into a refrigerator can lower the overall temperature of all your perishable foods. In practice, at home we are not usually making sufficient quantities of hot food to impact the refrigerator’s temperature. Consider the size of your portion to be cooled when deciding how to put it under refrigeration. If you need to employ faster cooling an Ice Bath or Venting can help. Thick or solid foods should be spread in a shallow pan for faster cooling. 

Undercook Pork Products

Cook pork products thoroughly to prevent trichinosis which is present in all domestic pork. Pork should be cooked to at least 155° F (68° C) to kill the parasite.

Make too much Hollandaise Sauce

Do not make more hollandaise sauce than is deemed necessary for a meal as it goes bad quickly. Don’t keep a fresh, non-stabilized Hollandaise sauce for more than two hours after making it.

Ignore Food Spoilage Warning Signs

Be on the alert for food spoilage through the growth of molds, fungi, fermentation or Rancidity

Ignore your Mess as you Go

If many hands make short work, your own hands, employed during lulls in the cooking process, can make short work as well and if you clean & sanitize as you go, you are not leaving a potentially pathogenic mess (raw meat juices, contaminated utensils, etc.) sitting in The Food Danger Zone until you get around to it. Lastly, a big cleaning after a large and satisfying meal is a bit of a comedown. After a pleasant dining experience, we prefer a light clean up whenever possible.  

Ignore Food Expiration Dates

Packaged foods can go bad, unopened in their containers. Packaging is just not designed to hold perishable food indefinitely. Watch your expiration dates to avoid unpleasant surprises. Using foods before they turn will also help your budget by elimination of waste.  

Source Bad Product

Sometimes there is a reason things, like prices, are too good to be true. If you want solid, high quality food, patronize solid high quality food providers (retailers & producers). If they don’t get your business they may not survive and we will all be stuck with the remaining less palatable alternatives.  

Store your Food Poorly

If you store your food poorly, near pesticides, under leaking pipes, in direct sunlight, it can become adulterated or ruined. Store hazardous chemicals separately from foods to avoid any leaks. Storing food & chemicals separately also cuts down on cases of mistaken identity between food and chemical containers. You don’t want to wrongly reach for the vinegar for a dressing and get the bleach.  If you value what you put in your body and what you paid for them, invest some energy in Properly Storing your Foods.  

Ignore Product Quality Warning Signs

Foods, even in our modern distribution system, can become contaminated during manufacture, distribution, or while being held for retail sale. Signs of product quality issues can be bulging or dented cans; and torn, degraded and/or unsealed packaging.  

Store your Foods Uncovered

Uncovered foods are prime landing spots for flying pests (and the diseases they transport) or floating germs seeking a host.  

Allow Unsanitary Surfaces to Touch your Refrigerated Foods or Food Products

Do not allow any unsanitary surface (such as the outside of a food container) to touch any refrigerated food or food product. 

 Store Raw Meats Above Vegetables

Raw meat juices can drip down onto foods stored below them, contaminating the target food with whatever pathogens were hiding out on the raw meat. Always store susceptible foods above raw meats. Raw meat should, in turn, be stored in leak proof containers, like a meat drawer, glassware, plastic bags or containers etc. 

Leave the Refrigerator or Freezer Door Open for Extended Periods

Leaving the refrigerator or freezer doors open for any length of time renders the appliance useless at its main job of maintaining foods at specified temperatures. If the temperature falls in any of your cold holding appliances, your cold stored foods can enter The Food Danger Zone very quickly.  Commercial refrigeration units have external thermometers for constant & quick spot checks. It is not a bad practice to install a thermometer in your refrigeration appliances or at least to periodically spot check them. Use Newer Foods of the Same Type Before Using the Same Older Purchased Foods.

The idea is to use older product, the product that might go bad earliest, first. In accounting and food service the idea is called First In First Out. (FIFO). In practice at home the best way to manage FIFO is to put newer purchases behind or under older purchases, making it easier and more natural to access the older product first. If you are not doing FIFO you should try it and see improvements in product freshness and your budgets.

Store Foods on the Floor

If you store foods on the floor, you make it easier for both pests (bugs and/or rodents) to access the foods. You also make it easier for anything kicked up by passing foot traffic (dander, dust etc.) to possibly contaminate your foods.

Marinate Foods on the Counter at Room Temperature

Similar to thawing at room temperature, marinating at room temperature risks holding foods in The Food Danger Zone for too long and allowing pathogens to grow.

Don’t Hold Glasses, Cups, Plates or Utensils by the Parts that will Touch your Guests’ Mouths

Serving guests with a sanitized glass, cup, plate or utensil, direct from the dishwasher or sanitizer is far preferable to them what is hitching a ride on your hands between washings.

Don’t Just Clean Your Kitchen

Just cleaning your kitchen so there is no visible dust, soil, or grime is not enough. Straightening up, organizing, making everything look nice is not enough. Cleaning is not Sanitizing. Would you eat a hamburger off of a freshly cleaned kitchen floor?