Oftentimes in college, it's hard to keep up with your own hygiene habits, let alone your kitchen habits. Food safety on the consumer level is a huge concern of mine. Oftentimes when we become lazy about caring for ourselves, this translates into the kitchen. I know I personally have committed some of these bad hygiene habits and food safety no-nos. I can almost guarantee you are guilty too. Learn a thing or two about food safety on the cooking side while laughing at yourself.
1. Not Brushing Your Teeth— Not Doing Dishes
Whether you're not brushing your teeth because you're about to sip that OJ in the morning or you're too tired to make it to the sink at night, it's not good for your teeth. That bacteria is growing in there and multiplying. Also, it could contribute to making you sick faster.
This is just like in not cleaning a dish completely. You know when you think that splash of water on that pan will do just a fine job of cleaning it? That's a no-go for sure. Trust me, that pan or dish definitely needs a good washing just like everything else, otherwise bacteria and germs can grow on there. This can eventually lead to you becoming sick. Also, if you're not next to use the dish it might really annoy your roommate. Plus, that way you can be sure the next thing you cook in there has all of its own original flavors.
2. Re-Wearing Dirty Clothes—Microwaving Leftovers in the Same Container
Yes, midterms are next week and you're freaking out because you never just have one exam, but rather three in the same week plus a paper. Don't re-wear those dirty clothes. You can't be clean and showered and hop into dirty clothes.
This lack of clothes washing is just like re-microwaving leftovers three four or five times in the same container and just eating out of it each time. It's gross and not sanitary. Either separate the leftovers into different single-serve containers or microwave your serving in a separate bowl. This helps prevent bacteria growth of any sort. Just like re-wearing your clothes, not only will your food taste better, but you will feel better about it. Remember you've got to keep yourself both clean and healthy.
3. Not Wearing Shoes in the Dorm Bathroom—Not Throwing Out Old Food
Those dorm bathrooms are not mopped often and the showers in your living quarters probably aren't that clean either. I think of these places as the hidden dangers. In the kitchen, you can't see anything that seems too bad, but there's a whole lot underneath the surface of those questionable ingredients. Who wants to get a foot fungus? That's one lesson enough to wear shoes.
Questionable items in the kitchen include expired, old, or questionable ingredients. Don't scrape mold of off that bread, it doesn't do anything. This includes questionable ingredients that look fine, but also state that it expired a week ago (aka the hidden danger of those occasionally mopped bathroom dorm floors). Expired or bad ingredients can often cause food poisoning or a a bad tummy ache. It's not worth it, use good ingredients and wear some shoes.
4. Overgrown Fingernails—Not Cleaning the Fridge
Your claws are growing in, which is not a good sign unless you're studying to be a cat. It's an obvious problem and something needs to be done. This is just like the mess you left in the refrigerator (yes, I'm talking about those countless week-old take out leftovers and that spilled salsa).
Your fridge needs a cleaning. This problem is solved in one of two ways. Either slowly, like picking at your finger nails, which is like trying to eat the leftovers and finding out that they are no good one by one, or only wiping out the fridge spills as your roommate walks by. The better method though is the get 'er done by putting on those gloves and cleaning out that fridge nice and tidy. A great time to do this is right before you go grocery shopping. That way all of that new food is in a nice, clean area.
4. Not Washing Your Hands—Using Ingredients That Have Touched the Floor
You need to wash your hands every time you use the bathroom. Honestly, germs are spread so quickly on a college campus it's crazy how fast people can get sick.
This is just like the cook who is constantly dropping things on the ground or onto unwashed counters and just putting them back in the dish because it "adds flavor." They are not exactly the clean freaks of the kitchen. Wipe the counters down, because the five-second rule no longer applies to food past age 12.
6. Not Showering for a Few Days—Not Washing Produce
We smell your dry shampoo, and the body spray is total over kill. This is just like the person who finds it perfectly fine to not wash produce before eating or cooking it. Do you know how many people's hands could have touched that, and you're not even going to wash it?
That's not okay, you should always be washing these kind of ingredients. You never know whose hands were on them before yours were. It could have been that little kid in the grocery store with the super snotty nose, and if you didn't wash those veggies you could end up being that snotty nose kid too. Its always best to wash all your ingredients and yourself, you gotta stay fresh.
7. Never Changing Your Sheets—Cooking with Just One Utensil
We shed skin and bring our germs from the day with us in bed if we don't shower before bed. It's nasty to think about how many germs are in a bed if it hasn't been changed recently. This is comparable to using the same utensil throughout the entire recipe.
Using the same knife to cut the raw meat and veggies is risking your chances of spreading E. coli or salmonella. Food-borne illnesses and pathogens are no fun. Who wants to be recovering from a food-borne illness when you could be out having fun? Make sure you don't use the same utensils for each component of your dish and be especially careful with raw meats. Use multiple knives or utensils or wash them before you touch each of your ingredients, and you are sure to avoid food poisoning.
These bad hygiene habits can definitely translate into the kitchen and cause for a giant food safety hazard. Take care of yourself and your food.