Containing food safety at home

Published 2:39 pm Monday, April 5, 2010

Today, many families are busy rushing and running. Utensils that once were cleaned thoroughly after each use may get set aside. Cleaning is neglected or delayed. Consider these items:

Whisks — when purchasing a metal whisk, some of the easiest ones to clean are stainless steel whisks with their wires attached to the handle with a watertight seal. They don’t rust, and food particles don’t get trapped in the handle.

As an aside, a whimsical apron sighted on the Internet identifies the wearer as being involved with “Home Cooked Security” and holding the position of “Director of Whisk Assessment.”

Pastry and basting brushes — Use food-grade pastry and basting brushes rather than paint brushes. Avoid cross contamination when using food brushes. For example, don’t baste raw meat and then use the same brush on the cooked meat or another food that will not be cooked. Also, it is a good practice to use a different brush for pastry than the one used for basting meats. Wash brushes in hot soapy water and rinse well after each use.

Vegetable brushes —Vegetable brushes are designed for scrubbing hard-surfaced vegetables and fruits, such as melons, cucumbers and acorn squash. Clean them thoroughly after each use. The easiest method is to run them through a dishwasher if they are dishwasher safe.

Sponges — Sponges are hard to keep clean for use on food contact surfaces, such as dishes and countertops. Sponges provide an ideal location for bacteria to grow. Bacteria thrive in the warmth, moisture and food collected on sponges. Sponges should be cleaned and dried after each use and changed frequently.

Dishcloths — Dishcloths are easier to keep clean than sponges and can be purchased very inexpensively. A clean one can be used every time a person does the dishes or wipes the counter. Launder dishcloths in the washing machine in hot water and dry in a hot dryer. A third possibility is to use a combination of paper towels and dishcloths. Some people find it easier to wipe up small spills with a paper towel and use a dishcloth for cleaning larger areas.