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Disinfecting the Kitchen: [How] Do You Do This?


merrybaker
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Also, to respond to what Rebel Rose commented on, vinegar will not leave a sticky residue.  Pure vinegar is nearly as liquid as water.  You also used to be able to find a cleaning strength vinegar that was 10% instead of the 5% cooking variety.  I think Office Depot still might have it available in their cleaning section.

Some good points I wish to add the following thoughts.

Back in the day when I developed my own film I would mix stop bath from Glacial Acidic Acid for a 5% solution. Come to find out that white vinegar is %% acidic acid and a lot cheaper to boot.

One of the hazards with using household bleach to sanitize is that if it comes in contact with other agents it can release chlorine gas. Part of the problem is if a little is good a lot is better mentality. I don’t know how many times I have seen people use bleach straight from the jug to clean a floor only to be gagging moments later.

Also people can get sick from bleach if it builds up on a surface or does not dry. This normally manifests itself in the eat a meal and less than an hour later you feel sick syndrome. Soap and detergens can do this too if not properly rinsed.

Even after being certified by the state of Illinois and the city of Chicago in food service sanitation I don’t always follow the “rules” and a lot of the rules make a certain amount os sense from a percentage point but play little effect in a home kitchen. I would venture to guess that most home kitchens would fail a city of Chicago health inspection, mine included.

People don’t normally store food in the refrigerator correctly. Even people using dishwashers wet nest there dishes rather than let them air dry. Food stock is not marked and rotated according to date. That’s the short list of common errors without getting obscure or going into proper storage of chemicals.

I think the reason some people get obsessed with cleaning is we have become conditioned to do so. Why use soap and hot water to wash your hands when Germ-X waterless hand gel is available? Why use washing soda and hot water with a little ammonia on your floors and counters when you can buy 3-7 other things that are specialized to get the crud from your sink, shine your linoleum and polish your marble counters?

Living hard will take its toll...
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I'm curious if all the crys to avoid disinfecting your kitchen are overreacting much as the people who are obsessive about disinfecting?

For example, why would it be bad to wipe things in the kitchen down with a disinfectent, say, once a week?

Thoughts?

-john

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Each person should decide for themselves what risks they want to take, whether it's crossing the street against a red light or eating a rare or medium rare burger. Promoting health risks is not on my agenda.

Jim

I suppose this was directed at me, so I will respond.

I advocate it, if only for one reason: the potential rewards far outweigh the risks.

What is the point of living one's life in fear? If I die before I reach 30, then so be it, at least I enjoyed some good rare burgers in my day.

I don't think my comments were diriected at you. Certainly I would advise folks to be aware of their immunity constraints. Each person needs to decide for themselves the risk/reward paradigm. You may be pushing 30, while I'm piushing 62.

Jim

:laugh: We're all pushing 62, the question is how hard and from which side.

"Half of cooking is thinking about cooking." ---Michael Roberts

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Back in the day when I developed my own film I would mix stop bath from Glacial Acidic Acid for a 5% solution. Come to find out that white vinegar is %% acidic acid and a lot cheaper to boot.

Not to be a pedantic twit, but I offer a correction only so that readers won't be misled. You are actually referring to glacial acetic acid. Culinary white vinegar is approximately a 5 % solution of acetic acid.

If you went to the chemical supply house and asked for acidic acid, they would look at you strangely. Asking for acetic acid, however, will ensure prompt service!

Regards,

Michael Lloyd

Mill Creek, Washington USA

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I'm curious if all the crys to avoid disinfecting your kitchen are overreacting much as the people who are obsessive about disinfecting?

For example, why would it be bad to wipe things in the kitchen down with a disinfectent, say, once a week?

Thoughts?

-john

Would it be bad? No. Would it be effective? Not really. Given that the doubling time of many common bacteria is less than an hour, and that the common ones are also borne on dust, dander, and other things normally in the atmosphere, you're most likely not going to make a significant difference in the normal flora of your domicile.

But, my question is, if you keep the dirt and filth down to a minimum by sweeping, vacuuming, and doing dishes, and you also keep things dry, you're not going to have any significant growth because there simply isn't an energy source, or a water source, both of which are limiting reagents to life.

So, why do people insist on a scorched earth policy in their kitchens.

And, FWIW, I think that the foo-foo scented bleaches should work just fine.

I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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Really, what we're talking about here, is the benefit of sanitizing with bleach periodically versus not sanitizing. Using bleach correctly is a very effective way of killing bacteria, some of which are deadly. (This, of course, is not what the original topic is directly about, but what it has become.) If you want to cook and eat a burger cooked to rare or medium rare, then sanitize the equipment that comes into contact with the ground beef. If bacteria exists on prep surfaces it should be taken care of before it comes into contact with food. Arguing against this is transparently stupid and irresponsible.

The rules regarding sanitation for restaurants are severe because of the increased risk of bacterial contamination inherent in serving multiple meals to the public. (The rule is wash with soap, rinse with clean water, and then sanitize with a bleach solution to kill as much bacteria as possible.) This fact does not suggest that we should ignore the risks of potential illness at home because the risks are fewer. The dangers don't change that much if only a few people are involved. If you are serving your own family I can't imagine that you wouldn't take every reasonable precaution to protect them. Are you willing to tell your children that they may not live past age seven but that last undercooked chicken breast will make them so happy that they won't care?

Pretending that a cutting board contaminated with raw meat, regardless of the potential benefits of building up an immunity to salmonella or e. coli, is harmless and then using it for other items is not okay. Take a chance if you want to, but don't risk the health (or lives) of others because you are reasonably sure that what you do to protect yourself is enough for others.

If we aren't supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?

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That does not change the fact that a good portion of the advice come up with for proper food handling and sanitation come around because of knee-jerk legislation.

Now, I'm not saying that in a commercial kitchen things should be the same as my recommendations for a home kitchen because things spend more time wet, and therefore have a better chance to actually grow a culture. But practices of holding food and then rewarming are much more common in the restaurant business than at homes. There are vast differences in the environments.

I'm also not saying that people oughtn't do anything when they're going from prepping ground meat to vegetables on the same cutting board. Even in my prep, I don't. However, all I do is wash with hot soapy water, rinse with clean hot tap water, and dry if necessary (like when I'm doing a fine mince so things don't stick). One thing to keep in mind about disinfectants is that anything that will kill bacteria, spores, and fungi that quickly generally does not have a good effect on the human system, and institutes that recommend these sanitation guidelines bank on humans simply getting too low of a dose to affect their system.

But, I for one would rather live with the effects of a child at my house attempting to drink the dish-soap I leave under the sink, or come crying to me because they stuck their hand in hot soapy water, then to have to call poison control because they drank bleach or some other thing. And I don't even have kids or let them into my domicile. And, no I don't really want to get further into discussions of loading doses and toxicities and such, but the fact is that stuff that kills them, kills us, and it is simply much easier to keep things clean (note I did not put sterile or disinfected) and dry at the home/consumer level. Restaurant kitchens given the length of time things are in use are a whole different ball game.

However, I do recommend what FG does, and running your sponges through the dishwasher. Those things are cess-pools.

I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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I have to jump in and say I am with jsolomon on this one. My credentials are different, but I have plenty of background in microbiology and infection control, albeit from the medical, rather than foodservice, side. The bacterial load on clean, dry surfaces is really not a concern. I treat my cutting boards exactly as described in the post above. I clean my counters with detergent and water and I never use bleach or any other disinfectant in my kitchen.

[i will admit that there was a time when I would spray something "disinfecting" around the sink on occasion. That was when my son was in diapers and would have such an overwhelmingly huge and messy poop that the only practical way to clean him up was to throw him in the sink and hose him down. Even I felt the need to clean a little harder after deliberately contaminating the kitchen sink with feces. :shock: ]

It is my impression that folks with the most specific knowledge about the microbiology of the normal body and home are typically quite relaxed about these issues. Understandably, people who don't have that knowledge may be more susceptible to anxiety induced by ads for products that "kill germs on surfaces in your home...." The manufacturers have products to sell; that doesn't mean you actually need them.

So, please, stop smoking, fasten your seatbelt and stop worrying about your kitchen. :smile:

Fern

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  • 10 years later...

So what happened to getting accustomed to bacteria to develop a resistance to them? Seems the quest to rid the house of "germs" leads to more sickness than it avoids. Personally 

I blame the advertising agencies selling "germ destroying" products.

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Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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So what happened to getting accustomed to bacteria to develop a resistance to them? Seems the quest to rid the house of "germs" leads to more sickness than it avoids. Personally 

I blame the advertising agencies selling "germ destroying" products.

 

An excellent book on the subject of our quest for cleanliness.

 ... Shel


 

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So what happened to getting accustomed to bacteria to develop a resistance to them? Seems the quest to rid the house of "germs" leads to more sickness than it avoids. Personally 

I blame the advertising agencies selling "germ destroying" products.

 

For one thing, dust mite droppings can pass thru many vacuum filters. There are people allergic to dust mite droppings. 

 

dcarch

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For one thing, dust mite droppings can pass thru many vacuum filters. There are people allergic to dust mite droppings. 

 

dcarch

 

I believe that HEPA filters might solve that problem.  If you're not familiar with them, here's a brief overview.

 

Some vacuum cleaners have HEPA filters that trap more dust from their exhaust. HEPA-equipped

vacuums throw less dirt and fewer microscopic dust mites back into the room as you vacuum.

Some people say allergy symptoms improve after using these vacuums.

 

I only use HEPA filters in my vacuum cleaner.  They are a definite improvement over regular filters, but I don't know for sure if they will filter dust mite droppings.

Edited by Shel_B (log)

 ... Shel


 

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Eat some dirt every so often. It's good for the immune system.

We try to be pretty clean but if I swabbed and cultured my counter top I would not be surprised to find a fair number of nasty organisms living on it which is okay by me. My kitchen is not a surgical suite

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My grandparents had an expression in their 17th century German dialect along the lines that everyone ends up eating a kilo of dirt every year. Their kitchen was clean & tidy but they would have fainted at the notions  espoused by the chemical companies today that one must purchase those products. I am a biologist by education and at least anecdotally it seems to hold true in my life experience that we are insanely susceptible to marketing...

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Eating dirt is one thing. Inoculating it into food where it can cause food poisoning is quite different. Two issues are getting comingled.

 

Actually I have been to a few areas with no refrigeration. Lots of food were left out in tropical weather overnight or longer. If they smell, just washed the smell off and add more seasonings. No one got food poisoning.

 

dcarch

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Its true the world largely survives with bad sanitation, crappy medicine, and impure water.

 

Yeah, the world survives. But individual people survive at a much lower rate when they don't have 1st world sanitation. This is a fact; look at WHO mortality statistics for infectious diseases. CDC statistics for the U.S. on foodborne illness aren't exactly rosy.

 

The idea that "no one gets food poisoning" when living in developing world conditions is just wrong. Food-borne and water-borne illnesses wipe people out. In less extreme cases, people develop tolerance to organisms like giardia ... which just means that after their initial weeks of being sick as a dog, they feel fine. But they remain carriers the rest of their lives, and spread it whenever they go to the bathroom.

 

I'm fine with the That Which Doesn't kill Us Makes Us Stronger approach, when it comes to myself. I have a sense of what my own immune system, and it's my fate to gamble with. Different story when I'm cooking for other people. I find it stunningly irresponsible to be dismissive of food safety when you're making the choice for others.

 

If you cook for people, learn to cook safely.

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Notes from the underbelly

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Yeah, the world survives. But individual people survive at a much lower rate when they don't have 1st world sanitation. This is a fact; look at WHO mortality statistics for infectious diseases. CDC statistics for the U.S. on foodborne illness aren't exactly rosy.

 

The idea that "no one gets food poisoning" when living in developing world conditions is just wrong. Food-borne and water-borne illnesses wipe people out. In less extreme cases, people develop tolerance to organisms like giardia ... which just means that after their initial weeks of being sick as a dog, they feel fine. But they remain carriers the rest of their lives, and spread it whenever they go to the bathroom.

 

I'm fine with the That Which Doesn't kill Us Makes Us Stronger approach, when it comes to myself. I have a sense of what my own immune system, and it's my fate to gamble with. Different story when I'm cooking for other people. I find it stunningly irresponsible to be dismissive of food safety when you're making the choice for others.

 

If you cook for people, learn to cook safely.

 

Exactly my point.

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Dcarch aren't you the one who uv sterilized his kitchen?

 

Yes, that's me.

 

-------- Different story when I'm cooking for other people. I find it stunningly irresponsible to be dismissive of food safety when you're making the choice for others.

 

If you cook for people, learn to cook safely.

 

Absolutely. Never take any chances with other people's health. That is why I go to extremes when I cook for others. That's why I have a 55 Watt germicidal UV light which is what medical research labs use to sanitize.

I am very relaxed with sanitation in the cooking environment when I cook for myself. But when I cook for others, I go 300% to clean everything.

 

dcarch

 

UV%204_zpschxlf62y.jpg

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So now we're being dismissive of food safety? The words sublime and ridiculous come to mind.  If you don't bathe your kitchen in UV light or use one of the many anti-bacterial products to wipe down surfaces, you are going to poison people? Really?

 

We just seem to take all this a smidgen too far. Brings to mind what Jacques Pepin said to Julia Child about washing chickens: “if bacteria could survive that oven, it deserves to kill me.”

 

What's next? Autoclaving cooking implements?

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Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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