Only On 6: How Clean is Your Kitchen?

moderate staph growth
moderate staph growth
staph aureus – a more infectious form of staph
staph aureus – a more infectious form of staph

When Texomans go out to eat they want to know the restaurants kitchen is clean and safe. We all expect them to follow strict regulations, but would your kitchen pass the test?

Newschannel 6 teamed up with the Wichita Falls-Wichita County Public Health District to find out if the everyday home is as clean as you think.

Tina Levy stays active and busy, her two kids, husband and two cats are in and out of the house all day.

Tina allowed Newschannel 6 and a health inspector in her home to test her kitchen. We wanted to see if Tina's kitchen was as clean as she thought it would be. Tina said her kitchen is one part of the house that gets used the most.

Suzanne McKenzie, Public Health Officer and Inspector, started first with Tina's cutting boards.
McKenzie commented, "Everything has germs on it. I don't think people think about their things being contaminated." She added, "Just because it looks clean people have the generalized idea that their kitchen is clean."

McKenzie said what people should avoid is cross contamination while using a cutting board. She recommends using different cutting boards for meat, fruit and vegetables.

"All of those items can carry different bacteria. If each item had their own cutting board, you don't have to worry about the e-coli."

McKenzie also said once a cutting board gets old, particles from the cutting board will come off while your cutting and contaminate your food. She then took a sample from Tina's cutting board.

Next stop was Tina's sink. McKenzie took a swab sample of  Tina's sponge and explained that sponges can hold tons of bacteria. "People don't think about the bugs that we think about. People think well it looks clean on the surface, but you can't see viruses and bacteria because their microscopic."

Next on the list was hand washing. "Hand washing is your first line of defense against food born illness and protecting yourself and your family.' McKenzie showed Tina the right way to wash your hands.

She said wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap before you eat, after you play with pets, after you sneeze or cough and especially after you use the restroom.

McKenzie said different forms of e-coli can be transmitted to humans if hands are not clean. "It's usually fecal oral infection or contamination." She added, "Where they don't wash their hands well after using the restroom, then go into the kitchen and they're touching things and touching other peoples food."

Tina's refrigerator was next. When McKenzie inspects a refrigerator she looks for it to be set at proper temperatures. A fridge needs to be keep at 41 or below, and a freezer at zero to be safe with any type of food.

"Just because it's in the refrigerator it still continues to grow bacteria. It just grows at a slower rate." McKenzi added, "Labeling food and left-overs is also important so no one in the home gets sick."

McKenzie suggested to look at the food item and if it has separated, looks funny, or the color has changed, throw it out.

Tina said she will take what she learned and change up her and her families everyday cleaning routine, especially around the kitchen. Tina commented, "The things we did everyday I thought that everything would be clean. Now I know it's not really as clean as I thought."

The health inspector swab sampled a few other items in Tina's kitchen, like hand drying towels. We sent those samples to the health district lab where they sat in a refrigerator for a few days.

We got those test results back and it was surprising what bacteria was found on kitchen items that looked clean to the human eye.

Sponge Results: came back with heavy bacteria growth to moderate of a few strains of staph. The sponge did test positive for Staph Aureus, the more infectious type that can cause illness in minor skin infections.

Cutting Board Results: Moderate bacteria growth and a moderate form of staph.

Cutting Board #2 Results: Moderate bacteria growth and moderate mold growth.

Kitchen Towel Results: Light bacteria growth and moderate traces of staph, including Staph Aureus.