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Kitchen Germs: How to Avoid Bacteria When Cooking

Quick tips to help keep bacteria and parasites out of your kitchen -- and your food.
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Step 4: Post-Prep Tips to Fight Kitchen Germs

After the feast, there are a few kitchen tips that can help keep those leftovers safe for another delicious meal:

  • Time It: Bacteria can multiply quickly on cooked food left out for more than two hours at room temperature. Refrigerate items in a timely manner. 
  • Avoid Room Temperature: There's a good reason why the rule of thumb is to "keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot." Bacteria multiply rapidly between 40 degrees Fahrenheit and 140 degrees F. So it's best to keep hot cooked food at 140 degrees or higher, and cold cooked food at 40 degrees or lower. 
  • Fridge and Freezer Temperatures: What temperature are your refrigerator and freezer? The refrigerator should be set at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower and your freezer at 0 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  • Leftovers: Store leftovers in shallow dishes (divide large portions if necessary) so they can cool down more quickly and reach the desired refrigeration temperature faster.  And avoid packing your refrigerator so there is little space left. In order to keep the food at a safe temperature, cool air needs to circulate.

There you have it, four steps that can help you keep kitchen germs at bay, prevent bacteria from growing on your food, and help keep you, your family, and what you eat as healthy as possible.

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Reviewed on June 24, 2008
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