Would your kitchen pass a health inspection?

By Heather Sullivan - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - In the Restaurant Report every Thursday at 11 p.m., we show you the restaurants that had critical violations on their state health inspections. Restaurants are held to a high standard of health and safety.

So how would your kitchen at home measure up? Would you pass inspection? We asked a state inspector to put an NBC12 reporter's kitchen to the test.

NBC12 anchor and reporter Sunni Blevins is usually confident of her cooking and cleanliness, but today she tells us, "I'm a little nervous."

One of the most common violations in a restaurant is that the food in the fridge is not being kept cold enough, often because the door is frequently opened. Foods in the fridge should be no more than 41 degrees Fahrenheit.

State environmental health manager Chris Gordon said Sunni's fridge passed with flying colors. Said Gordon, "You have a really good refrigerator. It's 36 and dropping."

But it was where Sunni placed her raw chicken that earned one critical violation. Her raw chicken was on a shelf over some ready-to-eat foods. Explained Gordon, "Sometimes there are juices in the package and they can leak out and contaminate the other ready to eat foods."

Many people don't date the food in their home fridge, but restaurants are required to. So that was Sunni's second critical.

Sunni washed her hands before cooking. But Gordon encouraged her to take off her ring, which is hard to clean. And she earned a third critical for not washing her hands after touching the raw meat. Gordon pointed out, "Now you've touched raw food, you've put it in the glove, and you've touched different things," which can spread bacteria that can lead to food borne illness.

Sunni earned good marks for changing to clean utensils when she touched the raw chicken. Said Gordon, "I've noticed you've been really good about doing that."

But she had the same problem that is common on cutting boards in many restaurants. Gordon showed her, "You can pretty much see there are a lot of score marks. It's hard to keep that clean and sanitized over time." That's a fourth critical violation.

And finally, Sunni has a meat thermometer, but doesn't always make sure foods have been cooked to high enough temperatures. "So I had how many critical violations?" she asked.

That's a total of five. But don't come down hard on Sunni. This could be your kitchen. Said Gordon, "I think the average kitchen would find the same things we found in here."

One more tip from the Health Department: sponges can harbor bacteria. The inspector recommends using brushes, wash clothes, or paper towels for cleaning instead.

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