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May 09, 2017

Hey Philly, your home kitchen probably fails a health inspection

You may remember headlines from earlier this year when no less than 29 Philly-area eateries were closed due to a slew of cringe-inducing health code violations. Most notable was the ongoing saga at upscale Greek restaurant Opa, which suffered from multiple violations ranging from both improper food storage and traces of pest feces, and notably absent from the list of closures was dive bar destination Dirty Frank’s, outed for its apparent cockroach infestation but not forced to close up shop, even temporarily.

While any of these closures may send you running to your kitchen for safekeeping, more terrible news that will instill fear into your every meal has come from researchers at Drexel University.

During two studies which observed the health standards of 100 sample kitchens in Philadelphia homes, researchers Patricia Borrusso, Shana Henley and Jennifer Quinlan found the average Philly kitchen isn’t up to code, either.

The studies, published in Food Protection Trends and the Journal of Food Production, looked at risks for foodborne illnesses conceived from improper food storage and pests. No less than 65 percent of the kitchens observed showed evidence of pests – we’re talking mice droppings and insect sightings – while the vast majority (97 percent) of kitchens carrying raw meat had it improperly stored.

Another harrowing stat was the number of fridges at risk of causing bacteria growth – 43 percent – from being too warm or, for six percent of kitchens observed, being held at room temperature. Forty-four percent of kitchens had bacteria present, including 15 percent with E. coli.

So, while this is terrifying, the reports yield a few quick fixes that can help make a big difference. First, stop stacking meat on top of your favorite frozen pizza or other ready-to-go frozen food, which can cause contamination. Secondly, be mindful of moist dishcloths and sponges, which are the biggest breeding grounds for bacteria growth. Microwave that sponge if necessary or sanitize it in the dishwasher. 

And stop letting your pets crawl over kitchen surfaces.

Read Drexel’s synopsis of the report here.

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