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Food Safety: 5 Things in Your Kitchen That Could Make You Sick

Posted: 02/27/2012 8:13 am

By Nicci Micco, M.S., Content Director, Custom Publishing & Licensing for EatingWell

Every year, 76 million Americans get sick from food, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Nothing you can do will ever guarantee 100 percent protection against food-borne illness, but taking certain precautions can help reduce your risk. Some of these protective steps are common sense, like washing your hands before you eat. Others aren't so obvious. Read on to discover five surprising sources of food-borne "bugs" in your kitchen that we've written about in EatingWell Magazine, and how to protect yourself.

Kitchen Threat #1: Your Kitchen Sponge
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When participants in a study from NSF International (an independent public health organization) swabbed various items in their houses, the kitchen sponge was by far the germiest. In fact, it harbored 150 times more bacteria, mold and yeast than a toothbrush holder. "You pick up bacteria when cleaning, but because you rarely disinfect that sponge between uses, germs multiply," says Rob Donofrio, M.S., Ph.D., NSF's director of microbiology. While the majority of germs they found won't make you sick, some -- such as salmonella and E. coli -- can cause serious illness. The best way to de-germ your sponge: Microwave a wet sponge for two minutes daily and replace it every two weeks.

More from EatingWell:
7 Unexpected Uses For Your Microwave
9 'Bad' Foods You Should Be Eating
The Best Oils To Cook With (And 2 To Skip)

What do you do to keep your kitchen and your food safe?

By Nicci Micco

Nicci Micco is Content Director, Custom Publishing & Licensing for EatingWell and co-author of EatingWell 500-Calorie Dinners. She has a master's degree in nutrition and food sciences, with a focus in weight management.

For more from EatingWell writers, click here.

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