28 Oct Countertop Food Safety
Our countertops are there for us through so much; preparing bagged lunches for our kids, working on a home cooked meal for our families after work, and preparing massive holiday feasts. They do it all, with elegance and style; after everything’s done, we’ll still hear people say “Oh my gosh I love your countertops!”. Obviously, we have a love affair with countertops, and we think you should too, but you should know that all of that food prep can lead to bacteria and other problems if you’re not being careful.
People will defrost meat on their countertops, wipe their dishes, then their hands, then their countertop with the same towel, even prep food on their countertop and just give it a simple wipe with a paper towel. All of this can lead to contamination, which leads to sickness, which leads to some uncomfortable days. Fortunately, there are a few easy ways to avoid getting your countertops contaminated.
First, you want to avoid cross-contamination. It occurs when bacteria from one source is transferred to another source; when you use the same knife for raw meats and vegetables without washing, you’re at risk of cross-contaminating; same idea if you’re cutting raw meat and vegetables at the same spot on your butcher block countertop without thoroughly disinfecting it first. The solution here is disinfected, disinfect, disinfect; don’t just use a warm water sponge, find some antibacterial wipes and go to town; just be sure it’s nothing too caustic because you want to maintain your countertop.
If you’re using a sponge to disinfect the area, try microwaving it for a couple of minutes; almost all bacteria on the sponge will die, thanks to radiation! It should go without saying; don’t use this technique with metal sponges. They’re abrasive anyway, so you should avoid using them on wood countertops unless you love scratches.
Don’t defrost meat on your countertop; it’s a breeding ground for bacteria. When defrosting, try putting the meat into another container, like a metal bowl; that way, all the bacteria is contained within one dish, easily washed and disinfected.
Practice good personal hygiene in order to keep your countertops bacteria-free! Wash your hands constantly; anytime you leave the kitchen to talk on your phone, type on your computer, go to the washroom or fix your hair, you need to give your hands a good scrubbing. Do NOT use the same towel for everything; have one for dishes, one for your countertop and one for your hands.
A great way of being counter-conscious is to use cutting boards instead of cutting directly on the countertop. People with wood countertops might not be thrilled about this, but it is the best advice for keeping bacteria relegated to one area; it’s also a great excuse to swap out old wood countertops for a beautiful new variety. There are quartz countertops in Vancouver that will bring you joy; just make sure to clean them properly after every meal!