A brave woman in Sydney, Australia, recently invited a restaurant health inspector into her home to evaluate her kitchen. Not surprisingly, for a kitchen used by a family with young kids and a dog, the inspector found more than a few offenses that would’ve resulted in a failing grade for a commercial kitchen. Unsure how your kitchen would measure up? Follow the tips below to keep it inspection-ready.
One of the biggest things you can do to prevent harmful bacteria from growing is to keep the refrigerator at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and keep the door closed as much as possible so it stays cold. Food that needs to be refrigerated should be put in the fridge right away, and cooked foods that you’re refrigerating should be stored above raw foods (heat rises). Anything perishable that’s been left on the counter for more than two hours should be tossed.
Dirty dishes should be washed as soon as possible (as in, before you leave for work in the morning, rather than after you get home), and the sink and scrub brushes should be kept clean and dry. Dish towels should be washed between uses and sponges should be replaced weekly.
Surfaces should be sprayed with disinfectant and wiped clean after every use. Thawing meat on the counter or in the sink is a major no-no—always thaw it in the fridge. Gaps between the counter and the wall or an appliance are havens for pests and should be sealed. Likewise, warm spaces beneath the stove, microwave, and refrigerator should be regularly checked for cockroaches (who apparently like to keep cozy).
When was the last time you gave more than a passing glance to your stove’s exhaust fan? In restaurant kitchens, the fan is one of the first places an inspector looks for cockroaches and other pests. You should check yours on a regular basis.
Cutting boards, utensils & dishwashers
Wash cutting boards, knives, and other frequently used items between each use to prevent contamination. Allow them to dry thoroughly before reusing. Clear out any food scraps from your dishwasher regularly, and use the rinse cycle to clean it every two weeks.
Wash them before and after preparing or eating food. Every time.
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