Regardless of eating or cooking habits, a healthy lifestyle requires that food remain uncontaminated and fresh. At the heart of clean kitchen is the separation of different types of foods and proper cooking and cleaning practices.
Keep It Clean
A clean kitchen is easy to achieve so long as upkeep is performed regularly. Standing water and old food allow bacteria to spread, so make sure to clean out your fridge regularly, and don't let dirty dishes sit in the sink for days on end. Perhaps the easiest step to avoid bacteria growth around the kitchen is to clean or replace sponges often. Ironically, the tool we use to clean our dishes is often the one that spreads the most bacteria. A wet sponge is an ideal place for bacteria to grow as it is built to trap moisture. Sponges can be easily cleaned by microwaving for about a minute, which kills all bacteria that may be growing inside them. Replace sponges that are old or worn to stop the spread of bacteria, and never use an old wet sponge to clean dishes. And finally, keep counter tops clean and free of debris. Wiping down counters before and after cooking helps keep bacteria at bay.
Separate the Food Groups
Different types of food should be stored in different places. Meat, dairy, and produce should all be kept in their own areas, as each have unique health issues associated with them. Vegetables that are to be eaten raw are of particular concern, as bacteria associated with meat and dairy will not be killed in the cooking process. Therefore, it's always best to keep veggies in the crisper section of the refrigerator and away from meat and dairy. Meat should be kept in a separate area by itself as well, as should dairy products. Contaminants from meat can affect dairy as easily as they can affect vegetables and vice versa. By separating foods it ensures that the spread of potential contaminants is limited.
Heat or Chill
Bacterial growth can be easily avoided by keeping food hot or cooling it quickly. Bacteria grow best at room temperature, so keeping perishables in the refrigerator or freezer is a must. A refrigerator should generally stay around 34 degrees Fahrenheit to protect food from going bad. If you plan on to leave food on the stove, keep the temperature above 149 degrees Fahrenheit. At temperatures hotter than 149 most common bacteria cannot survive. Food kept in the freezer is generally preserved best at around 0 degrees if possible.
When cooking, one should keep in mind all of above previous information. Make sure kitchen materials are clean and foods are kept separate until they are added together in a dish. Wash all utensils used to prepare raw meat before they touch any other food, and make sure never to serve cooked meat with the same utensils used to prepare it. The longer meat is cooked, the less likely that it will carry harmful bacteria. After cooking, be sure to store leftovers in the proper packaging and at the correct temperature. It is always best to cool leftovers as rapidly as possible to prevent contamination. Leaving food on the counter can allow bacteria to grow.