RSS Feed

Kitchen Basics: Cleanliness and Sanitation

Posted on

 I’m constantly amazed at the number of otherwise skilled cooks I’ve observed that seem to completely ignore one of the most important aspects of food preparation – cleanliness and sanitation.  I remember one kitchen in particular, where the cook prided herself on using only natural/organic/free range/whole grain ingredients, but thought nothing of putting her family’s health in serious jeopardy by preparing food in an unsanitary manner.  I don’t even want to go into detail about what I witnessed, since I haven’t eaten lunch yet – suffice it to say, I wouldn’t so much as drink a glass of water on those premises!

A cleanliness checklist is actually very simple:

  •         Clean hands
  •         Clean work surfaces
  •         Clean utensils
  •         Fresh ingredients

So how do we get clean and stay clean?

The most obvious thing is to wash your hands frequently with soap and hot water – not just a quick rinse under cold water.  In between hand washings, use of an alcohol-based hand sanitizer is always a good idea.

Sanitizing work surfaces may require a bit more thought, but it’s not at all difficult: think of every horizontal surface where food is likely to contact; and don’t forget cutting boards. Clean using any commercially available cleaning solution, following label directions.  Make sure to allow the surface to dry.  You can also make a very effective sanitizing solution from ½ cup chlorine bleach in a gallon of water.  Or use what I do: ordinary 70% isopropyl alcohol on a paper towel.  It cleans, shines chrome and stainless steel, and sanitizes like crazy.  It also evaporates quickly.

Clean utensils are easy if you have a dishwasher – follow the manufacturer’s directions for loading and detergent use, and use the hottest water possible.  Most dishwashers have a built-in heater that superheats the water on certain cycles like the Pots & Pans setting.  If you hand-wash dishes, you can still get the job done – hot water, good dishwashing soap, and change water frequently if you have a lot of washing to do.  The second step should be a quick dip into a bleach water solution, followed by a clear water final rinse.  Dry with a clean dish towel (air drying in a dish rack invites airborne bioburden).

Finally, use fresh ingredients and store them properly. Bacteria incubation on and in food products starts immediately, and causes spoilage.  Pay attention to expiration dates – don’t buy a carton of eggs today that you don’t intend to use for a month, okay?  And of course, watch out for cross-contamination – you know the drill; don’t prepare meats, fish or poultry on a surface you plan to use again without fully sanitizing.

And one last thing – keep pets away from the food prep area.  Cats, iguanas and chimpanzees don’t belong in the kitchen, especially on counters.

I hope you’ll take these tips seriously – if you throw a dinner party, and guests later get sick and die, believe me, word travels fast…



About azdon

I believe that my unique combination of education, ability and experience would be a real asset to your company, in any capacity that… Wait a minute – this isn’t a résumé, it’s a profile – I’m sorry, I was confused for a moment. In that case, I’ll just say that I live in the beautiful desert Southwest, I’m extremely happily married, I have everything I need and almost everything I want. Is that good enough? And one more thing… I probably wouldn’t be much of an asset to your company.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: