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Safe Practices in the Kitchen

Below are some important health tips, several of which I was totally unaware. Though I do not recall the source of the information, I decided to include it anyway, because it is really important. (Editor)

While a sponge is excellent for wiping up messes and absorbing liquid quickly, it can also absorb harmful foodborne pathogens along the way. You can’t eliminate all germs lurking in a sponge, but, there are ways to significantly reduce cross-contamination, which can lead to food poisoning, with the following dos and don’ts

Do Clean Sponges Daily. To lower the risk of cross-contamination, you should sanitize your sponges. While testing common household methods used to disinfect sponges, researchers at the USDA found that over 99 percent of bacteria, yeasts and molds were killed by microwave heating damp sponges for one minute or dishwashing with a drying cycle. Sponges can also be disinfected with a solution of one-quarter to one-half of a teaspoon of concentrated bleach per quart of warm water. Soak the sponge for one minute.

Do Replace Frequently. Even after two or three uses, your sponge could be teeming with bacteria. And, though cleaning your sponge daily helps reduce the risk of food poisoning, you should consider replacing your kitchen sponge regularly. If your sponge starts to smell at any point — toss it out.

Do Store in a Dry Location. It’s important not only to wring out your sponge completely after each use and wash off any loose food or debris, but you should also store it in a dry location. Letting your sponge lay wet on a countertop takes longer for it to dry and allows harmful bacteria to multiply quickly and increases the opportunity for bacterial growth. Also, do not leave damp sponges in an enclosed area such as a bucket or under the sink.

Don’t Wipe Up Meat Juices. Cleaning up spills from ground beef or poultry with a sponge can increase your chances of spreading harmful foodborne pathogens. Instead, use a paper towel or disinfectant wipes to clean up spills and other bacterialoaded messes.

Don’t Use on Countertops. Many sponges contain millions of bacteria — and it only takes a few to get you sick. Avoid spreading those germs and bacteria to countertops by using a paper towel or disinfectant wipe to reduce the chances of crosscontamination with your sponge.

Don’t Ignore Dishcloths. While less porous than sponges, you should still launder dishcloths frequently as they can harbor enough harmful bacteria to make you sick. Remember to wash in hot water and dry them on high heat in the dryer and consider having separate dishcloths for different purposes (e.g. hand washing and dish drying).

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