1.Rinsing Raw Meat and Poultry. Dean Cliver, PhD, an Institute of Food Technologists spokesperson on food and kitchen safety, says the USDA has backed off the idea that meat and poultry should be washed or rinsed—in fact, the organization’s website says there’s no need to do so. “Sometimes you may buy a chicken, and it has salmonella. If you cook it thoroughly, it would kill it,” Cliver says. “Washing it might spread the salmonella around.”
2. A Greasy Range Hood and Filter. Captain Peggy Harrell of the Plano Fire Department in Texas says grease that has accumulated under your range hood and on the filter is “just the kind of thing that can start a grease fire.” Keep the underside of your hood clean, and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for changing the filter regularly.
3. Radon Gas. Radon is a radioactive gas generated in rock soil that causes lung cancer—and sometimes collects in homes. The EPA says that radon is often found in water (people using wells rather than municipal water systems are at a higher risk), and is released when the water is agitated, as when washing dishes. The New York Times also recently investigated radon emission from granite countertops and cited studies that found some levels to be unsafe. The gas is not detectable by sight, smell, or taste, so the EPA suggests testing for it. Hardware stores sell inexpensive kits you can use to check the radon levels in your home.
4. No Fire Extinguisher. Do you have a fire extinguisher near your kitchen? Captain Harrell says you should (she even suggests that you give extinguishers as housewarming gifts). Look for an extinguisher that works on class A (ordinary combustibles), B (flammable liquids), and C (electrical fires), often called a multipurpose dry chemical extinguisher.
5. Dirty Sponges. Sponges harbor disease-causing bacteria and spread those bacteria around kitchens. A study by microbiologist Carlos Enriquez at the University of Arizona found salmonella in about 15...
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