Dirty habits drive food contamination

Dirty habits drive food contamination
48 million Americans get foodborne illness every year. (Source: Pablo)

(KAIT/NBC) - When was the last time you wiped off the salt and pepper shakers? You might think you're the cleanest cook ever, but did you wash your hands properly after handling raw meat?

The USDA has found that people have some pretty dirty habits in the kitchen, which could easily lead to illnesses.

In fact, 48 million Americans get foodborne illness every year.

USDA researchers videotaped people to see if they cooked meat properly.

These participants knew they were being watched and that the agency would not share the actual footage.

Instead, reenactments showed that participants failed to wash their hands 97% of the time.

Carmen Rottenberg with the USDA said nearly half contaminated spice containers after handling raw meat.

"You can't see pathogens, you can't see bacteria on your hands, and so you need to remember, even if they don't look dirty, they could very well have dangerous bacteria," said Rottenberg.

Experts say proper hand washing means scrubbing hands with soap for 20 seconds, then drying with a clean paper towel.

Click here for more tips on how to avoid cross-contamination.

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