September is National Food Safety Education Month – making this a perfect time to remind busy families about the importance of food safety and some of the simple steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of food borne illness.
K-State Research and Extension food scientist Karen Blakeslee says that washing your hands is probably one of the best lines of defense between your family and food poisoning.
“It doesn't have to be the anti-bacterial soap,” Blakeslee said. “The experts out there say that just plain old soap works very well. What really is important is scrubbing and rubbing your hands together. The friction that you create by rubbing your hands together is what really loosens the dirt and gets it off your hands. So that's really the best thing to do.”
In addition to frequently washing your hands, kitchen towels and dishcloths need to be laundered often. As for sponges, Blakeslee says it’s really best to avoid using them.
“If you're still using a sponge to wash your dishes, those are really not the best thing to be using, because they can really trap bacteria and they'll stay there until you put water on them and then they'll come alive again,” Blakeslee said. “So sponges are really kind of frightening, really. It's better to use something that's washable that you can wash frequently in good hot, soapy water.”
If you’re hand washing your dishes, Blakeslee says it’s better to let them air dry so that you eliminate one more chance of a dirty towel coming in contact with your clean dishes.