With hectic lifestyles and little time for cooking, it’s easy to overlook food safety at home. Here are 3 tips to help you eat “cleaner” food at home:
- Clean the can! Rinsing off jars, canned foods like canned beans and soups as well as soda/seltzer cans with warm water before opening them can help eliminate harmful bacteria that is likely to be ingested if not cleaned properly. And don’t forget to clean the can opener with warm water and soap after opening cans! In addition, when storing cans and jarred goods, choose a cool, dry place and avoid using cans/jars with dents, cracker or bulging lids as these are signs of a potential food borne illness threat.
- Rinse ALL fruit & vegetables. Many of us know the importance of washing ready-to-eat fruits and vegetables before eating them, but studies show that more than half of us skip washing peel-and-eat fruits and vegetables such as oranges, bananas, and carrots. Fruit and vegetable peels might carry bacteria that can spread during cutting or peeling, so always be sure to rinse them first even if you aren’t going to eat the skin/peel.
- Wash surfaces like counters and cutting boards before and after preparing foods. And don’t forget to wash refrigerator shelves often. Here is a “recipe” for making a safe & effective bacteria killer*:
One 16 oz. bottle of Hydrogen Peroxide (3%)
One 16 oz. bottle of White Vinegar or Cider Vinegar
Two Plastic Opaque Spray Bottles (16 oz. or larger; avoid translucent or transparent bottles as light can lessen the effectiveness of the hydrogen peroxide)
– Label one bottle “hydrogen peroxide” and pour the hydrogen peroxide into it. Label the other “vinegar” and pour the vinegar into it. Do not pre-mix the hydrogen peroxide and the vinegar into the bottles as this makes the “recipe” ineffective.
– When you are ready to disinfect your counters, cutting boards, and other surfaces that have been in contact with food, spray the surface generously with hydrogen peroxide. Then spray generously with vinegar. Rinse/wipe the surface with water afterwards. It doesn’t matter which you use first – you can spray with the hydrogen peroxide followed by the vinegar or vice versa. You can also use these solutions for cleaning vegetables or fruit if you prefer to do more than just rinse them with water; just spritz them with the vinegar and then the hydrogen peroxide (or vice versa), and then rinse them off under running water.
* In tests run at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, pairing the two mists killed virtually all Salmonella, Shigella, or E. coli bacteria on heavily contaminated food and surfaces, possibly making this spray combination more effective at killing these potentially lethal bacteria than chlorine bleach or commercially available kitchen cleaner. The best results came from using one mist right after the other (it is supposedly 10 times more effective than using either spray by itself and more effective than mixing the vinegar and hydrogen peroxide in one sprayer, so follow the directions carefully!).