good kitchen habits

Preschool-age kids are particularly vulnerable to <i>e. coli</i> and related food-borne illnesses, find out what you can do to avoid them in your home.


Learn how proper food handling and storage tips can keep your kids from falling ill from a food-borne illness
The kitchen in many homes is a favorite family-gathering place, which is why you should take steps to ensure that it's also a safe place. Safety isn't just about locking cabinets and keeping flammable liquids and dangerous objects out of reach, it's also about maintaining certain hygiene practices that keep your family healthy. Follow these simple steps for keeping your kitchen clean and kids healthy.

Food Storage

Try these basic steps for ensuring that food is properly chilled to avoid bacteria growth or contamination:
  • Get perishables home and into the refrigerator within 2 hours of grocery shopping--within 1 hour if the temperature outside is above 90°F.

  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises that your refrigerator temperature be 40°F or lower to slow the growth of bacteria.

  • Don't over pack your fridge or freezer. Cold air needs to circulate freely to keep foods properly chilled or frozen. Avoid frequently opening and closing the refrigerator door, especially in warmer months. This keeps the refrigerator from maintaining a regulated cool temperature.

  • The FDA recommends refrigerating leftovers while still hot, or within 2 hours of cooking. Dividing hot foods into small containers will help them cool more quickly in the refrigerator.
  • Don't leave food sitting out overnight to cool


    Five Food Preparation Tips

      1. Keep several cutting boards on hand for cutting meats, fruits & veggies, and garlic and onions. Never use cutting boards made of wood to cut raw meats or poultry. The porous surface makes a nice home for bacteria like e coli. Play it safe by using a plastic board for meats. Use wooden boards for cutting fruits, veggies, and cooked meats.

      2. Always thaw and marinate foods in the refrigerator. Foods can be defrosted in the microwave only when they will be cooked immediately.

      3. After handling raw meat, poultry, or eggs, be certain to thoroughly wash your hands with warm, soapy water.

      4. Always keep a meat thermometer on hand to ensure meat is cooked to its proper temperature:
        Red meats should be cooked until their internal temperature is at least 160°F.
        Poultry should be cooked until its internal temperature is minimally 165°F
      Find fact sheets on proper meat and poultry preparation on the the FDA's Web site.

      5.Countertops and any surfaces touched by raw meat or eggs should be wiped down with a dilute mixture of bleach and hot, soapy water.

      For more food-safety tips, see On-the-Go Safety Tips: Cooking Out.

    Cleaning Up

    • Use a separate sponge for cleaning dishes and for wiping down kitchen surfaces like stove tops and counters. Color code the sponges so that they won't get mixed up.

      A dishwasher is great for sanitizing sponges and dish clothes. Put them in at the hottest wash cycle and keep them on the top rack where they won't fall to the bottom or onto the drying element.

    • Sanitizing wipes are fine for cleaning little spills, but a little bleach diluted in warm soapy water is also a good way to sanitize food preparation surfaces that have been touched by raw meat and their juices.

    • Wash towels used for wiping hands at least once a week.
    Important Disclaimer: This information is not meant as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult a doctor with questions about your or your child's condition. does not recommend or endorse specific tests, products, procedures, opinions, or other information provided by any sponsors or other third parties. Please also see's Terms of Use.
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