My Kitchen's Health Inspection Revealed a Dirty Secret

Sahar Aker
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You know those restaurant ratings where health inspectors put food safety and cleanliness to the test? A new report finds that if inspectors came into our homes, one in seven kitchens would flunk. Health inspections look for food safety violations, everything from meat stored at the wrong temperature to cockroaches in the kitchen.

I always look for those letter grades in restaurant windows before I go in. If a restaurant I love doesn't get a passing grade, I cringe ... and never eat there again. I try to forget I ever ate there. But would my kitchen pass the sort of health inspection restaurants get?

The Los Angeles county health department recently started a home kitchen self-inspection program to help people learn how to store and prepare food safely. It also started letting people take an online quiz that simulates a restaurant inspection checklist. Well, this I definitely had to try ...

I expected my kitchen would get a pretty good grade. I'm kind of a germ-a-phobe. Some may even call me paranoid. Just one food poisoning will do it.

The test took me only about five minutes to finish. It's made up of 45 yes or no questions about things like how you store food, how clean your floors and countertops are, and how often you wash your hands. I had a feeling I was going to ace it!  

Refrigerator at 41 degrees Fahrenheit or lower -- check.

Raw meat stored below other foods on refrigerator shelves (so juices don’t drip onto other foods and cause cross-contamination) -- check.

Fruits and vegetables always thoroughly rinsed before I eat them -- check.

Seriously, do you ever just grab a piece of fruit and eat it without washing it first? I've seen people close to me do this. It's gross. Think of how many people touched it before you got it. And where their grimey hands may have been.

I NEVER let raw meats come anywhere near cooked ones. You won't catch me leaving leftovers out for more than two hours. And not a drop of poultry juice is left anywhere in my house by the time I'm done with it.  

I passed the test with flying colors. Yes, I got an "A" with a score of 99! The one thing I need to work on: My kitchen shelves and cabinets are NOT free of dust. Oops. Gotta get on that dusting thing.

Oh, and how cool is this? The LA County Health Department will send you a grade card to display in your kitchen. I'm going to proudly hang my "A."

Take the test -- does your kitchen get a passing grade?

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