Keep Your Meals Germ-Free

Cooking is prime time for spreading nasty bugs and viruses. Protect you and your family from food poisoning by following these simple tips.

Use separate cutting boards. Have one for meat and the other for vegetables. Wash them thoroughly after each use. Avoid wood boards, which may harbor organisms from meat, even after washing them.

Scrub fruits and veggies. Use a scrub brush on fruits and vegetables with skin such as potatoes, cantaloupes and yams. Even if you're not eating the skin, washing will prevent bacteria from seeping in when you cut the skin.

Add healthier leaves. Toss the outer leaves of a head of lettuce, then rinse the ones you use. It's also best to wash those that are labeled pre-washed.

Throw out the batter. Don't let kids lick the cake batter or cookie dough because it contains raw eggs, which can harbor bacteria.

Chill mayo-filled foods. Store foods with mayonnaise in the fridge until you're ready to serve, then put them away within two hours. You can also try placing the serving dish in an ice-filled container.

Turn down the fridge. If you're having a party, lower the temperature of the fridge a few degrees because you'll be opening and closing the door frequently. In general, you should keep the fridge temperature between 34 and 40 degrees to keep your food fresh and as bug-free as possible.

Store leftovers quickly. Refrigerate leftovers within 90 minutes because bacteria grow quickly at room temperature.