Learn how germs that can cause food poisoning spread around the kitchen and how you can help protect your family with simple cleaning and disinfection.
As well as frequent and thorough hand washing, an equally critical step you can take is to clean and disinfect hand and food contact areas in your home. The reason for this is that bacteria can survive on surfaces in the home for long periods of time. They can then be transferred to other surfaces (including the hands) in sufficient numbers to represent an infection risk5.
To help stop germs spreading, it is important to regularly clean the surfaces used for food preparation and those surfaces that you often touch with your hands, such as the fridge door handle, cupboard handles, taps, waste bins and door handles.
You need to clean and disinfect food contact surfaces before putting any food on them and immediately after contact with any raw food (e.g. poultry, meat, fish and eggs). After touching raw food you should also clean and disinfect any surfaces that you may have contaminated with germs (e.g. fridge door handle and taps).
Surfaces in the kitchen such as fridge door handles, cupboard handles, taps, waste bins and door handles can easily become contaminated with germs, especially if hand hygiene is poor. You should clean and disinfect these hand-contact surfaces regularly to ensure they don’t become a hygiene hazard.
The vast majority of food-borne illnesses occur because food was not handled or cooked properly. The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that 50 to 80% of food-borne illnesses happen in the home8. Foods are safely cooked when they are heated for long enough and at a high enough temperature to kill any harmful micro-organisms. If food isn’t cooked properly micro-organisms such as Salmonella, E. coli and Listeria may cause food poisoning. Coupled with this, foods stored incorrectly can also increase the risk of contamination and disease spread. Ideally, all food, particularly cooked food, should be stored in a refrigerator.
Poultry, pork, hamburgers, sausages, chicken nuggets, rolled joints, and kebabs - They may harbour bacteria throughout.
19% of kitchen surfaces were contaminated with E. coli. This contamination could have come from raw meat which highlights the importance of handling food carefully in the kitchen.
Cross-contamination happens when germs spread from one food to another, directly or via surfaces or hands.
Always separate raw and ready-to-eat foods while shopping, preparing, and storing.
Food-borne illness or ‘food poisoning’ is caused by consuming germs in contaminated food or water. Germs that cause food poisoning can easily spread from foods, such as raw meat and poultry, to hands or kitchen work surfaces, and in turn can spread to other foods.
Depending on the type of germ involved, the symptoms may begin from one to 36 hours after eating contaminated food, and may range from a mild stomach upset, vomiting and diarrhoea to severe illness. For those with weak immune systems, illness can be more severe.
You can use antibacterial surface cleaning wipes, an antibacterial multi-purpose cleaner, or appropriate disinfectant to clean and disinfect kitchen surfaces.
It is advisable to clean your refrigerator regularly. Wipe up any spills promptly, then clean and disinfect any contaminated surfaces. Remember to use cleaners or disinfectants that do not leave an odour, and don’t forget to clean and disinfect the fridge handle and door seals regularly as well. Check the fridge manufacturer’s manual for advice on cleaning.
Sinks need cleaning regularly using products that can remove soap scum and scale. If the sink is contaminated (e.g. with germs from raw food) you need to clean and disinfect promptly. Since you cannot clean drains very easily, you may need to apply a suitable disinfectant regularly to reduce germs and odours.
Empty, clean and disinfect your kitchen bin regularly. Use a bin with a lid as keeping your rubbish covered will help limit the possibility of an insect or rodent infestation.
Remove food debris from tables and high chairs, and clean and disinfect them before meals.
If possible, replace kitchen carpets with hard surface flooring, such as tiles, linoleum, or laminate. These are more hygienic because they are easier to clean and do not collect debris in the same way that carpets can.
Always check product labels to make sure products are suitable for a surface before use.