What a Former Food Safety Inspector Does in Her Kitchen


clean-factMy daughter loves to help me cook! But after working as a food safety inspector for many years and now as the consumer information specialist for NSF International, I know there are certain steps I need to take to keep my kitchen clean and my family healthy.  

Before we start to bake our favorite brownies we clean the kitchen because it’s the top germ hot spot in your entire home. Soap and water or disinfectant wipes are the best methods to clean countertops, handles, faucets, sinks and even the floors. But for this baking adventure we don’t need to clean the entire kitchen so after cleaning the countertop and sink area, my daughter chants – “What’s next? What’s next?” – eager to start making the brownies!

Before we start measuring the ingredients, we wash our hands properly. My daughter likes to sing a song to help her pass the time while scrubbing. “…Happy Birthday to you…” works great as it provides enough time to get our hands clean and it’s fun to have a special hand washing song we can sing together.


We are ready now with the eggs, water, oil and the brownie mix. My daughter loves to crack the eggs and this is a great cooking skill for kids to learn as she takes the egg in her cleanly washed hand and squeezes it tightly over the bowl. Luckily, I have seen her do this before so we get to wash our hands and sing again after touching raw egg.  Then we measure the rest of the ingredients and pour the batter into the pan.

We put the brownies in the oven and anticipate our tasty treats and while we wait for the timer to ring, we wash the dishes. Did you know that your dishwasher cleans better than just soap and water? Your hands may not be able to withstand the high temperature it takes to actually clean your dishes, but the heat of the dishwasher  acts as a sanitizer.

It is also important to thoroughly clean the countertops with hot soapy water and don’t forget to rinse and dry it as well. I put my kitchen sponge and rubber spatula in the dishwasher to sanitize them along with the dishes as the sponge is the number one germiest item in your kitchen and spatulas are the fifth germiest.  Just place the sponge on the top rack with the glasses and run the regular wash cycle. If the rubber spatula detaches from the handle, place the items in the silverware tray separately.

Having a clean kitchen workspace and knowing how to ensure safe food handling helps keep me and my family safer. And we have the chance to enjoy our brownies while my daughter gets the opportunity to crack as many eggs as she needs to become a cooking pro! #LiveSafer




This blog is by Mindy Costello of NSF International. Mindy Costello is the Consumer Information Specialists for NSF International, a global independent organization that writes standards, and tests and certifies products for the water, food, health sciences and consumer goods industries to minimize adverse health effects and protect the environment (NSF.org). She’s a registered sanitarian and has also worked in public health standards development for NSF.