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Prairie Fare: Add Sanitizing to Your Spring Kitchen Cleanup Routine

Julie Garden-Robinson, NDSU Extension Service food and nutrition specialist Julie Garden-Robinson, NDSU Extension Service food and nutrition specialist
Sanitizing reduces or eliminates germs, such as Salmonella, on surfaces.

By Julie Garden Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist

NDSU Extension Service

As soon as I heard someone open the door to our patio, I knew a cleanup was in our future. Our three dachshunds rushed into the house, leaving muddy paw prints in their wake.

Our youngest dog, not quite 1 year old, ran around the living room, hopped on the couch, grabbed a shoe and continued running. His underbelly was caked with mud.

My kids began to chase him, and he was enjoying the “game.” As he zipped around our home, his muddy paws left tracks on wood, tile and carpet. Now our home needed more spring cleanup than ever.

He was the least popular dachshund that day, at least from my viewpoint. Fortunately, my three kids hopped into action with brooms, spray bottles filled with cleaning products and paper toweling. Our dogs now have a fenced area within our backyard far from the muddy garden plot.

Yes, spring is welcome with its growing grass and blossoming plants, but many times the melting snow leaves ample amounts of mud in our yards. Unfortunately, more dirt can find its way into our homes in the springtime.

If you’re thinking about spring cleaning, kitchens are a good place to start. By definition, cleaning removes particles, including dirt and food, from surfaces. Cleaning usually involves washing surfaces with soap and water, rinsing with clean water and air-drying or using a paper towel for drying.

Besides cleaning, you might consider sanitizing kitchen surfaces, including countertops, cutting boards, refrigerator drawers and other surfaces. Bacteria, including Salmonella, E. coli and Listeria, may be spread from contaminated hands to food or from contaminated surfaces, such as cutting boards, knives and other equipment, to food.

Sanitizing takes cleaning one step farther. Sanitizing reduces or eliminates germs, such as Salmonella, on surfaces. After cleaning the surface, such as a cutting board, spray the surface with the sanitizer of choice or prepare a larger amount in a sink and immerse the item. Leave the sanitizer on the surface for the suggested amount of time. Allow the surface to air-dry or use a clean paper towel to dry.

According to a study published in the Journal of Food Protection, several common household products are effective as sanitizers and are safe to have around food. One of the best in-home sanitizers is diluted unscented chlorine bleach (about a scant teaspoon of bleach per quart of water in a spray bottle).

When a diluted chlorine bleach solution is sprayed on cleaned surfaces and allowed to remain for at least one minute, E. coli, Listeria and Salmonella contamination can be reduced by 99.99 percent. Surfaces must be cleaned before using the chlorine solution because detergents and dirt can inactivate chlorine bleach.

Hydrogen peroxide can reduce E. coli and Salmonella, but not Listeria, when applied to surfaces and allowed to stand for 10 minutes. Undiluted white vinegar at room temperature can reduce Salmonella contamination when allowed to stand for 10 minutes. However, undiluted vinegar is not effective in the inactivation of Listeria or E. coli.

Foodborne bacteria can sicken us all. Some populations are more vulnerable to foodborne illness, so reducing disease-causing germs in their environment becomes even more important. If you live with someone who is elderly, immune-compromised or ill, or if you have children under age 5 in your home, consider sanitizing your kitchen surfaces regularly.

Here’s a tasty recipe perfect for a snack or part of a meal.

Black Bean Sandwich Spread or Veggie Dip

1/2 c. canned black beans, drained and rinsed

2 oz. light cream cheese, softened

2 1/2 tsp. lemon juice

1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

1/4 c. finely chopped red bell pepper

Blend all ingredients, except for the chopped red pepper, in a food processor or blender until smooth. Transfer to a serving bowl and stir in chopped red pepper. Refrigerate for one hour to blend flavors.

Serving ideas: Spread on a tortilla, roll up like a cinnamon roll and cut 1-inch sections to make “pinwheel sandwiches.” It also can be served as a dip for crackers or vegetables.

Makes three servings. Each serving has 90 calories, 7 grams (g) of fat, 3 g of protein, 8 g of carbohydrate, 2 g of fiber and 150 milligrams of sodium.

(Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., L.R.D., is a North Dakota State University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist and associate professor in the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences.)

NDSU Agriculture Communication – April 14, 2011

Source:Julie Garden-Robinson, (701) 231-7187,
Editor:Rich Mattern, (701) 231-6136,
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