Practicing food safety at home can stop most germs and bacteria from multiplying to levels that can make you and your family ill.
Since none of us want to deal with a tummy-ache we could have easily prevented, safe food handling is our best preventative weapon.
While most pathogens that occur naturally in uncooked meat, fish, and chicken are killed by proper cooking, many of these pathogens can spread long before you pop the entree into the oven.
These food safety tips can help ensure everything you prepare is safe for dinner.
The most common food contaminants - E. coli, hepatitis A, and salmonella - can find their way onto a sponge or dishcloth; you, in turn, can then spread the bacteria all over your kitchen unless you make an effort to stop them.
The single most important thing you can do to ensure your family's health and food safety is to wash your hands with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds before and after preparing raw meat and vegetables.
This will prevent you from spreading meat-, poultry- or fish-borne bacteria onto refrigerator doors, cabinet handles, and countertops, where they'll be lying in wait next time you reach for a leftover slice of pizza.
In addition to washing your hands, you can help prevent cross-contamination by washing utensils used to prepare raw items in hot, soapy water immediately after use.
That includes all knives, cutting boards, and serving platters that have held raw meat, fish or poultry.
When grilling, don't serve meat on the same platter that you used to carry it outside before cooking. Either wash the original plate or use another when it comes time to serve the cooked goods.
For kitchen safety, disinfect kitchen counters after juice drops from uncooked meat, fish, or poultry.
Clean up the area with hot, soapy water and paper towels - not the sponge you use daily. We're trying to stop cross-contamination here, after all.
To kill all the germs, you'll need to clean the surface with a mild bleach solution (one part bleach to nine parts water) or use a commercial disinfectant.
Keep all kitchen surfaces dry; bacteria can survive no more than a few hours when moisture is eliminated.
Even your kitchen sponges and dishcloths - the very items that are supposed to help you get rid of lurking germs - can be part of the problem unless you clean them regularly.
You should replace your sponges every two weeks. Regularly throw dishcloths in the washing machine - and always use hot water and bleach.
Plastic cutting boards (not wood) are a better choice for raw meats. They're less likely to harbor bacteria. Wash in hot, soapy water after each use.