Serving up sickness
Special Report: Serving up sickness
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We put home kitchens to the safety test.
From meal mishaps, to mice, to major mistakes, health inspectors are always on the lookout for hidden hazards in restaurant kitchens, but the threat could be a lot closer to home.
"[Of] the 76 million people [that] develop a food-borne illness every year, half of those people are getting sick at home," Lisa Berger, of Food Safety Consulting, said.
7News, along with a food expert, put two families and their kitchens to the safety test. We started with a fridge fact-finding mission.
"You have raw shell eggs directly above the cheese," said Berger.
Fridge Failure No. 1: Food Danger Zone!
"If it cracks and drips in the cheese, salmonella has been associated with eggs," said Berger.
We found the same scary scene in the freezer.
"If the juice from the hamburger drips into this, then you would be eating live bacteria," Berger said.
Fridge Failure No. 2: The Forgotten!
"Ohh, that's old," Berger said. "OK, March of 2006"
And keep in mind: a nose doesn't always know!
"Even though it's not green, it doesn't smell bad," Amy Sachs, a homeowner, said.
"Dump it," Berger said.
Fridge Failure No. 3: Temperature Trouble!
"About 40 degrees!" said Berger.
Much too warm! To keep food fresh longer, your fridge should be in the mid-30s.
"It's pretty close," Berger said. "Ideally for safety, everything in your fridge should be below 41."
Fridge Failure No. 4: Hot Food Hazards!
If you put the lid on leftovers before they cool down, your fridge turns into a bacteria breeding ground!
"It's going to put all of the other food items in the fridge in danger, because they are going to warm up, and bacteria will grow on them," Berger said.
But, one of the biggest "safety spoilers" can be found outside the fridge: the handy sponge.
Think about it: you clean your dirty sink with it, the contaminated cutting board and the filthy counter top. That means you could be spreading bacteria to your food. Experts say to keep it clean, microwave a wet sponge after every use or find protection in a paper towel you can throw away. By taking these safety steps, you can help avoid "serving up sickness."
Our safety expert says the best way to avoid getting sick is to wash your hands -- something Mom has been telling us for years.
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