Where germs hide in your kitchen

Posted on: 3:46 pm, April 30, 2013, by and , updated on: 06:18pm, April 30, 2013

DENVER — Beware the blender. It could be a germ trap.

A new study looked at the places, and appliances, that hold the most amount of harmful germs like E. coli and salmonella.

Some places people consider to be the most germy, like microwave keypads, were not that bad, the report said.Others are more surprising including refrigerator water dispensers and the rubber gasket on most blenders.

The kitchen is a particularly important place to keep clean. The Centers For Disease Control says 1 in 6 Americans gets sick as a result of exposure to a bug picked up in the kitchen.

Experts say the number one rule is to keep raw food separate from everything else by disinfecting counter tops and cutting boards.

Dr. Michelle Barron, Medical Director of Infection Prevention and Control at the University of Colorado Hospital says we sometimes get lax about thoroughly disinfecting the kitchen because our systems often protect us from getting sick.

“Most people’s stomach has enough acid in it that it will kill of whatever happens to be there,” Barron said.

Ice and water dispensers on refrigerators were the most contaminated, the study found, because they have a moist environment that can breed microorganisms.

Spatulas, blender gaskets (the rubber seal at the base of the blender that helps prevent leaks) and the meat compartments of refrigerators, were some of the other dirty places.

Can openers were another offender — likely because people use them and rarely rinse them off before putting them back in the drawer.

Practicing the old “5 second rule” (if food is picked up off the floor within 5 seconds it’s okay to eat) is just rolling the dice with your health, Barron said.

“They’ve done studies on the 5 second rule and it’s not a good idea,” Barron said.

Experts say counters with bacteria from raw meat, fish and other foods can be a breeding ground for deadly salmonella, so keep those foods separate from veggies and other foods.  Marinate in your microwave or refrigerator to keep things extra safe.

When cleaning, use bleach to disinfect with special focus on your sink.

“Just think about what you do in your sink. You wash vegetables, you wash meats you wash all sorts of things. So all that bacteria from dirt or from meats themselves accumulate on those surfaces.”

Another tip, toss out sponges after a couple of uses, they are notorious for harboring bacteria because they stay damp at room temperature.

Researchers say viruses can live for as long as 18 hours on some surfaces, so Barron said don’t forget to disinfect handles on drawers and the refrigerator.

“Think about how many people have access to that handle in a given day then you’re constantly opening, then you’re grabbing food.”

How often should you disinfect? Experts say each and every time you use the kitchen whether you’re whipping up a quick snack or creating a lavish meal.

For more information on how to keep your entire home clean and safe, you can visit http://women.webmd.com/home-health-and-safety-9/places-germs-hide