Darn if that day-glo pink sponge and the headline "Squeaky Clean? Not Even Close" on the cover of the Times' Dining In, Dining Out section grab my attention. Talk about scare tactics:
When mad cow disease was discovered in Washington State recently, it made headlines for days and brought action from the federal government. Coupled with a number of E. coli scares, it caused some Americans to swear off hamburger.
But most people don't seem to worry about what experts say is a petri dish for food-borne illness: the home kitchen.
"Everybody is so acutely aware of mad cow disease," said Janet Anderson, a clinical associate professor of nutrition and food sciences at Utah State University, "but people aren't aware of the fact that they don't even wash their hands when they enter their kitchens, which is a much greater risk."
Professor Anderson filmed more than 100 people preparing dinner and found that only two did not cross-contaminate raw meat with fresh vegetables.
It is not only people's hands, though. Dish towels, sinks, refrigerator door handles and warm, moist, crevice-filled sponges are also breeding grounds for bacteria.
I wonder how many NYT readers immediately put down their papers and picked up their 409 and started getting to work on their kitchen counters.
Needless to say, I agree with the article's effusive argument about cleanliness in the kitchen. I myself am a bit of a neat freak in mine. I'm always cleaning knives, cutting boards and dishes as I'm in the midst of prepping a meal. And, I wash my hands constantly.
Two tips on how to keep you and your kitchen spic-n-span:
1. Spend the extra money and buy a luxurious smelling hand soap by the sink. Throw some good lotion in for an extra incentive for hand-washing. Personally, I'm now addicted to my Cucina-brand Purifying Hand Wash with Olive Oil with a Coriander and Olive Oil scent. Not only does it disinfect my hands, but it can remove the lingering smell of garlic and onions from my digits. I also love their Repairing-Action Hand Cream.
2. Don't despair that the plastic bottle of liquid Palmolive looks unsightly in your glam home kitchen. Purchase a syrup pitcher and fill it with the green stuff. Now it'll be worthy of special spot next to your sparkling clean sink.