If a food safety expert inspected your kitchen, would it pass the test?
Inside Edition’s Chief Investigative Correspondent Lisa Guerrero and food safety expert Donny Yoo knocked on the doors of random homes in Los Angeles to conduct surprise kitchen inspections.
The sinks, food storage areas and expiration dates were analyzed using the same three-letter grading system as restaurant kitchens in many cities, with A being the best and C being the worst.
Bonnie Flaherty had just made a beef stroganoff casserole for her grandchildren when the crew arrived. Yoo checked the internal temperature.
“It looks like it's hot," he said. "As long as you don't leave it out for more than four hours you're OK."
He then examined the refrigerator, where he discovered a critical health violation: Raw meat stored on a top shelf, which can drip juices onto foods stored on the lower shelves.
“We want to put these on the very bottom shelf,” he said.
He also checked the expiration dates of bottled goods. Most were fine until he spotted an expired jar of apple sauce and some barbecue sauce that expired in 2014.
Finally, he checked the dishwasher and noticed some dried food particles. He said bleach and a washcloth can easily take care of that.
After going through the grading system, Yoo gave Bonnie a “B.”
But a neighbor’s house down the block was a different story. Yoo found many violations, including hotdogs left out in the open, rotten hardboiled eggs, dirty dishes piled up in the sink and a broken jar inside the fridge.
“You could actually swallow a piece of glass so you need to throw this out,” Yoo said.
No surprise here. Yoo gave that kitchen a “C.”
Another pair of homeowners, Sheryl and Ray, had the best refrigerator that Yoo had seen all day. Their dishwasher was so clean that he thought it was brand new.
The only blemishes were some expired milk and a lemon that was not wrapped up and had to be tossed. Yoo gave them an “A” grading.
So how can you get a passing grade? See our tips below:
1. Check cutting boards for grooves from your knives. Those small crevices can house some dangerous bacteria. If you see grooves, throw it out.
2. To prevent cross-contamination, store raw meat, fish and poultry on the bottom shelf of your fridge, below your prepared and ready-to-eat food.
3. Store food in plastic containers with tight lids or wrap tightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil to keep out bacteria, both in and out of the refrigerator.
4. Even a dishwasher gets dirty. Keep your dishwasher clean and free of food particles by wiping it down with distilled bleach and occasionally run an empty load with bleach instead of dish soap.
5. Set aside one day of the month to check expiration dates, especially meat, seafood, produce, eggs and dairy – expired foods can contaminate your safe food.
6. After preparing a meal, especially meat, wipe down surfaces with distilled bleach.
7. Regularly empty your refrigerator and wipe down the surfaces with distilled bleach – especially those lower shelves where you store your meats.