Spring Clean Your Kitchen!

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by Alyssa Anderson

Now that the spring weather is finally here, many people have started to clean their houses. The kitchen is a very important area to focus on to help prevent food borne illness. Here are some tips to cleaning and organizing your kitchen.

A great place to start is the refrigerator. It is important to make sure that the temperature of the refrigerator is at 41 degrees Fahrenheit or lower to prevent food -borne illness. If the refrigerator does not have a thermometer, one can be purchased specifically for refrigerators and freezers at a hardware store. It is important to keep the refrigerator cold as you clean, so it may be helpful to take out one food shelf at a time for sorting. Check all items for their expiration date, which is labeled. Any food past its expiration date should be discarded. Wipe down the shelves and drawers. When putting food back in the refrigerator, place foods closer to their expiration date up front so that they are used more quickly. Keep produce or ready to eat items away from items such as raw meat that will need cooking, to prevent contamination. Uncooked meat and fish should be stored toward the bottom to prevent juices from dripping onto foods. Always store leftover foods in food-safe containers that are leak proof and that can be sealed or covered.

Another important area to clean is the pantry. Again, check the expiration dates on items and discard those that have expired. Often it is easy to keep items such as dried herbs and seasonings for too long. Clean and dust the shelves before restocking the food. Place the foods that will expire soon up front and the newer items towards the back.

Next, focus on cleaning the area where food is prepared. Sanitize backsplashes, countertops, garbage cans, and recycling bins. Clean the outside of appliances, focusing on areas where the dirt and germs can easily collect, such as handles. Wipe down the inside and outside of cabinets. Finally, sweep and mop the floor.

Now that your kitchen is ready for the spring, it is important to note some regular upkeep so that you can enjoy it all year round. Continue to rotate food based on expiration dates in the pantry and refrigerator; this way older foods are used before their expiration date. Always discard items that are past their expiration dates. Between uses, wipe down and sanitize bins that store flour and sugar. Regularly check the refrigerator thermometer to make sure that foods are being stored at a safe temperature.

The Richmond County Cooperative Extension’s goal is to provide the residents of the community with research-based knowledge. For more information on food safety, health, wellness, and nutrition please contact us at 910-997-8255 or check out our website at N.C. Cooperative Extension Richmond County Center.