Making our lives easier using gadgets in the kitchen is not only convenient but fun too.
Instant pots, custom coffee by the cup, and high speed blenders have become common countertop additions we use daily.
But what gadgets should we have in our kitchens to make our meal preparation safe from contamination which could make us sick?
Detective Foodsafe® has some great tips for gadgets and gizmos to help us focus on both convenience and food safety when we prepare food for our families and friends.
Foodborne Illness Fighting Gadgets and Gizmos
There are things we should all have on hand in our kitchens that can avoid cross contamination and temperature abuse that often lead to food poisoning.
Supplying your kitchen with these gadgets will help you reduce the conditions that encourage the growth of pathogens.
In addition to having on hand disinfectants and sanitizers such as bleach and ammonia, it is important to have clean cloths to use in cleaning surfaces without spreading germs.
Microfiber cloths are recommended over sponges, cotton washcloths, or towels in the kitchen.
These specially designed cloths are made from small fibers that are able to pick up microscopic particles (including bacteria) within the numerous fibers on its surface. These microfibers are smaller than a strand of silk.
The microfibers are also porous, so they are very absorptive, especially compared to a nylon cloth that is made from plastic.
These cloths clean even without water or chemicals since they are good at picking up a mess instead of just pushing it around.
Microfiber cloths can be cleaned in your washing machine and should be washed on a regular basis, which only prolongs their cleaning life.
Every kitchen should also have bleach accessible in order to create a sanitizing/disinfecting solution to thoroughly clean all food preparation surfaces and utensils. Mixing bleach with water is the most effective and affordable way to keep our kitchen germ free.
Internal Food Thermometer
Experts like Detective Foodsafe agree that having – AND USING — a food thermometer is a good way to ensure food has been cooked to a temperature where pathogens can be killed.
Download this free Minimum Safe Cooking Temperatures guide so that you will know at what temperature your food is safely cooked to avoid food poisoning.
Most home kitchens should have a bi-metal or digital thermometer with a metal stem that inserts into the thickest portion of the food you are testing. You can find more tips from Detective Foodsafe on using the right thermometer here.
Refrigerator and Freezer Thermometer
In addition to testing your food before serving, keeping track of the temperature in both your refrigerator and freezer to ensure that you are storing all foods safely requires you to have thermometers in both units.
Some of the newer refrigerators and freezers have digital readouts that tell you the internal temperature but it still a good idea to have a thermometer inside in case of malfunction.
Technology has made safe outdoor grilling even easier with the use of electronic digital thermometers. They are considered to be more accurate than other types of thermometers and are great for grilling.
A digital thermometer for grilling allows you to hit a specific temperature that is safe for killing bacteria without overcooking your food.
The color of a food isn’t a good indication of its doneness when it comes to destroying harmful pathogens, so it is important to use a thermometer when grilling.
Owning a cutting board for each type of food – raw meat and poultry, ready to eat foods like deli meat and cheese, as well as produce can greatly reduce the risk of cross contamination when preparing food in your kitchen.
What type of cutting board is best? Different materials are used for cutting boards and each has strengths and weaknesses. It will depend on the type of food you plan to use on the cutting board to determine which material will work to prevent bacterial growth.
Plastic is often easier to sanitize using the dishwasher, therefore is a good choice for raw meat and poultry.
Depending on the sharpness of your knives and the frequency of their use, all cutting boards — but especially plastic — can develop grooves over time that allow bacteria to live and grow.
A hardwood cutting board will resist these grooves a bit longer, but they can be harder to sanitize. A good hardwood choice to use in the kitchen is bamboo. Soft woods such as cypress split more easily, allowing grooves for pathogens to multiply.
Keep your cutting boards dry to resist bacterial growth no matter the base material.
Using wood for produce, bread and cheese and plastic for protein foods such as meat, poultry and seafood will make it easier to reduce cross contamination.
Pathogen Loving Environments in Your Kitchen
Bacteria and other pathogens grow and thrive in certain environments found in all our kitchens.
Food handlers are taught that there are many conditions that favor the growth of illness causing germs but home cooks may not be aware that they are found in our kitchens.
When these specific conditions are present, microorganisms flourish.
FAT TOM is a handy mnemonic that reminds us which conditions we need to fight for a foodsafe kitchen.
F = Food Pathogens grow well with a food source such as proteins and carbohydrates.
A = Acidity Pathogens grow best in low acidity. Higher acidity such as in lemon juice and tomatoes inhibit bacteria.
T = Time Bacteria can grow exponentially in a small amount of time (1,000,000,000 times in 10 hours!).
T = Temperature Pathogens thrive in temperature danger zone (41 to 135 degrees F).
O = Oxygen Certain microorganisms need oxygen to grow.
M = Moisture Many microorganisms thrive when moisture is present.
By effectively fighting to control these conditions in our kitchens with gadgets and cleaning techniques, we can be germ fighters to protect ourselves and our families.