New York City has recently instated a policy requiring all restaurants to post the letter grade received at their health inspection. An A denotes a score of 0-13 worth of violations, B 14-27 points, and C, 28 points or more. If a restaurant gets a score of 14 or higher, they are re-inspected in two weeks. They can report the second grade, or post a sign that says, “grade pending”. A few weeks later, the restaurant’s representative appears before a tribunal, where the grade is arbitrated and finalized.
Henry Alford, a home cook and writer for the New York Times, arranged to have a food inspector come into his immaculate kitchen for a “mock” inspection. The results were surprising, and eye- opening.
Here, are a few key take-aways from the article that are worth keeping in mind at home, (and a couple of my own suggestions too):
Don’t wash your hands or your floor sponges in the kitchen sink; you don’t want to contaminate the sink that is being used for food preparation. Keep liquid soap and paper towels in the bathroom for hand- washing instead.
Keep cutting boards free of nicks and cracks where bacteria can grow. This also holds true for cracks in wood countertops and floors. Wooden cutting boards can be sanded to eliminate nicks. Plastic cutting boards can be washed in a bleach solution to disinfect them, but should be replaced when deep cuts appear.
Buy a thermometer to insure that your refrigerator temperature stays at 41 degrees or below at all times.
Keep pets off the kitchen counters. Cats tend to climb up on the counters and are often tracking feces from their litter box on the bottom of their feet.
Damp sponges and dishtowels are breeding grounds for germs. Keep towels clean and dry, or use paper towels. The sponge can be microwaved for 8-10 seconds to kill bacteria.
Avoid placing bags and purses on the counter top. The bottom of a handbag is often teaming with harmful bacteria.
Use a scoop to retrieve ice cubes from the freezer instead of your hands. (‘Nuf said)
A safe kitchen is a healthy kitchen. Use these tips to keep yours clean and germ free.
photo: Glasshouse Images