7 Things in Your Kitchen That Are Making You Sick (Slideshow)

These silent killers could be making you sick in your own kitchen

Cutting Boards

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The potential for a breeding ground of germs awaits a homeowner on their cutting board, especially if they believe that the danger lies only with wooden boards. In fact, wooden boards are just fine, so long as they are cleaned properly. The issue arises when cutting boards are improperly cared for after use. The USDA recommends the following: "Wash them with hot, soapy water after each use (especially after chicken); then rinse with clear water and air dry or pat dry with clean paper towels. Both wooden and plastic cutting boards can be sanitized with a solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water. Flood the surface with the bleach solution and allow it to stand for several minutes. Rinse with clear water and air dry or pat dry with clean paper towels."

Sponges

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While sponges are fabulous for wiping up messes, their moisture can contain a ton of foodborne pathogens that harbor and spread bacteria. The USDA-recommended remedy is very simple: run your sponge through a dishwashing cycle or nuke it in the microwave. Both will kill germs that live inside the sponge effectively. 

Refrigerators

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Just because the environment is cold doesn’t mean that there aren’t dangerous germs and foods hiding in your refrigerator. Refrigerators must be kept at 40 degrees to keep foods from developing bacteria, according to the FDA. Unfortunately, there are a multitude of factors that make maintaining the refrigerator temperature a challenge. Simple things like not overpacking the fridge, wiping up any spills, and keeping food covered are all small things families can do to make the kitchen a healthier place.

Plastic Containers

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Every household lives for leftovers, but you may want to reconsider saving food in plastic Tupperware. Unfortunately, many of the older plastic containers we use for our foods contain a certain amount of BPA that can taint food or make you sick. Be sure to look out for products labeled BPA free. Some, but not all, unlabeled plastics marked with recycle codes 3 or 7 may be made with BPA.

Microwave Popcorn

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It isn’t the popcorn’s fault that the average bag of microwave popcorn is laced with a plethora of dangerous chemicals. However, the bag’s lining is loaded with them, and particularly featured are the dangerous chemical fluorotelomers, which the EPA deemed carcinogens. The danger lies in the plume of steam that escapes the bag. To avoid, simply just allow the bag to cool before opening. 

Dirty Counters

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We hate to tell you this, but spending hours disinfecting your kitchen can still leave you with dirty countertops. While counters help create the space you need to make a marvelous meal, they can also be mistaken as an extended shelf for all of your family's things. Seemingly harmless objects can transport bacteria, so make sure you keep only food and related kitchen items on the countertop. 

Reusable Shopping Bags

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They may be fabulous for the environment, but they aren’t so hot for you. For instance, reusing a bag that once carried raw meat poses the threat of cross-contamination. If you are going to use these environmentally conscious totes, make sure that all food placed into the bag is properly covered, they are washed once a week, and they're kept out of the trunk of your hot car.