How to keep listeria out of your kitchen

Kitchen
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Your kitchen is the worst place for germs and bacteria, so take a look at these tips to help reduce or even eliminate listeria in your kitchen.

South Africa is currently experiencing the world’s worst listeria outbreak. The disease has taken at least 180 lives and 948 cases have been reported to health authorities. This outbreak led to four other countries; Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, and Mozambique, banning the import of cold processed meat products from South Africa.

As the whole country is taking extra precaution in the types of foods they eat and how the food is prepared, it’s also important to pay attention to the kitchen – the place where the food is made.

ALSO READ: Listeriosis: Frequently asked questions

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases released a guide to keeping your kitchen free from Listeria.

Below is the guide:

– All kitchen surfaces, refrigerators, machinery, and utensils should be washed thoroughly with warm water and soap. This should be done regularly.

– Surfaces, fridges, and machinery should be decontaminated with a dilute solution of bleach. To make the solution, mix one teaspoon of unscented bleach to one liter of water. Then pour the solution on the surface and leave to stand for 10 minutes. Make sure the solution reaches all cracks.

– Always cover your foods with a sheet of plastic wrap or foil, or put foods in plastic bags or clean covered containers before you place them in the refrigerator, and make sure there are no spills as Listeria can contaminate other food products through spills in the fridge.

– Clean up all spills in your fridge using a paper towel. Do not use a cloth towel to avoid transferring germs.

– Clean the inside walls and shelves of your refrigerator with warm water and liquid soap, then rinse.

– Wash cutting boards with warm, soapy water after each use.

– Dishcloths, towels, and cloth grocery bags should be washed often in hot water or in the hot cycle of a washing machine.

For extra precautions:

– Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food.

– Use leftover, precooked, and ready-to-eat foods as soon as possible. The longer they are stored in the refrigerator, the more chance Listeria has to grow.

More tips according to World Health Organization’s ‘Five Keys to Safer Food’ programme.

– Keep clean: wash your hands before handling food and often during food preparation.

– Separate raw and cooked: separate raw meat, poultry and seafood from other foods.

– Cook thoroughly: cook foods thoroughly, especially meat, poultry, eggs, and seafood.

– Keep food at safe temperatures: refrigerate and reheat foods correctly.

– Use safe water and raw materials: use safe water or make it safe (by boiling); choose foods processed for safety such as pasteurised dairy products; wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly, especially if eaten raw.