Growing up, every child heard a grown-up’s warning not to run with scissors or to stop playing with sharp objects before you poked someone’s eye out. As an adult, prepare to hear similar advice without the clichés, especially when working in the kitchen.

First Kitchen Safety Rule

Hand washing and scrubbing is not just an important rule for surgeons. The number one rule for people cooking in their kitchens at home that personal chefs and restaurant chefs do is to wash your hands. Your hands can spread bacteria, so to prevent the germs from ending up in your food, here’s some tips to remember:

-Wash your hands before starting any prep work with food.

-Scrub your hands and fingernails after using the restroom. Using hot, soapy water, vigorously wash your hands. A rule of thumb for how long to wash is to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice in your head. Do not dry your hands on a used towel. Use a clean hand towel or paper towels to dry.

-Wash your hands between handling raw food and ready to eat food. Be sure to wash your hands before handling raw or cooked meat and then again before working on vegetables and fruit.

-It is easy to forget hand washing after absentmindedly scratching your head or body, sneezing, or using a tissue. Yet, that is one of the main routes bacteria travels to spread disease.

-If you answer your phone or the door, do not forget to wash your hands again.

That may seem like a lot to remember, but it is well worth the trouble to avoid getting sick or passing the flu or a cold on to your family.

Second Sacred Kitchen Rule

Keep your cutting knives sharp and never put knives or sharp objects in a sink full of soapy water. Many home cooks do not realize that even dull knives cause injuries. Both sharp and dull knives can slip when cutting wobbly vegetables or fruit and can take an unexpected turn. A dull knife can actually end up doing more damage since it requires you to use more pressure to cut, increasing the chance a slip-could happen, with greater force behind it.

Most personal chefs will not allow a cutting knife anywhere near a sink filled with soapy water. You should be aware of OSHA safety rules regarding handling sharp objects in restaurants as well. Some of these include developing a daily maintenance schedule for sharpening your knives.

Third Kitchen Rule Never to Violate

When conducting personal cooking classes in New Jersey, Foodini’s Chef John makes a point to talk about cross-contamination. He forbids using the same cutting board to cut raw meat and then trim vegetables. Salmonella and other illnesses are deadly, and they spread through cross-contamination.

When bacteria on a kitchen tool transfers to food via direct contact, this is called cross-contamination. Experts advise disinfecting prep surfaces whenever you finish preparing one ingredient and before starting on the next. Try using specific cutting boards for specific foods, and washing all machinery/tools after use.

Although many additional kitchen rules exist, these are some essential ones to keep in mind when cooking and eating clean to keep everyone healthy. Wash your hands, keep knives sharp, and avoid contaminating your food.

"Creating Culinary Magic"

- Chef John Deatcher

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