Cross-contamination, in which germs from raw food are transferred to other food and kitchen surfaces, is a primary cause of food poisoning. People and animals also can bring germs into the kitchen. Food poisoning is easily preventable if you handle food properly and keep the kitchen clean If you're going to cook, it is also important to practice good personal hygiene.
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Start with Your Hands
Wash your hands thoroughly in hot running water before you begin cooking. You should also wash your hands immediately after handling raw food or dirty dishes while you are in the kitchen. If you leave the kitchen to use the bathroom, remove trash, eat or smoke, you should wash your hands when you return. Use paper towels rather than dish towels to wipe your hands when cooking.
Attire and Jewelery
Wear clean aprons and clothing when you are working in the kitchen. If you are wearing jewelery such as rings or dangling bracelets, you should remove them before you touch any food directly with your hands. Germs and bacteria can cling to your jewelery and transfer to your ingredients.
Be Prepared for First Aid
Unfortunately, accidents can be common in the kitchen. Sharp knives and other instruments may cause cuts and hot surfaces may result in burns. If you injure yourself, stop cooking immediately and tend to your wound. Open wounds should be covered to prevent contact with food or utensils. If you have a bandage on your hand or arm, be careful that it does not fall into the food you are preparing. It is a good idea to wear clean, disposable gloves in this instance.
Hair and Fingernails
If you have long hair, pull it back before you begin cooking. You should also take care to clean under your fingernails when you wash your hands before cooking. Avoid wearing fingernail polish in the kitchen.
Healthy Cooks, Healthy Kitchens
You should avoid preparing food if you are very ill or if you have an illness from food poisoning yourself. Don't cook if you have a contagious illness that is transmissible by sneezing or coughing. If you do sneeze or cough into your hands, be sure to wash them before you resume cooking, even if you are not ill. Don't eat, drink, smoke or chew gum while you are working in the kitchen.
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