Handling raw meat isn't really anyone's favorite food-prep task. And if the juices leak, spill, or splash, you've got a tricky cleanup job on your hands, lest you risk serious food poisoning.
Follow these tips to keep things de-germed.
1. Keeping it from happening is clutch.
Smart grocery stores have plastic bag dispensers handy in the meat department so you can wrap up those meat trays. This prevents the tray itself from leaking on other groceries and to keep from transferring any germs already on the outside of the package to your hands. If your store doesn't have bags handy in this department, snag some from the produce department.
When you open the meat package at home, do it right on top of this produce bag — just roll the sides of the bag down so the tray kinda sits at the bottom. After you've removed the meat and tossed back in any trimmings from the raw meat, just roll the bag back up, tie the top, and toss the whole thing in the trash.
2. Disposable cleaning tools are best.
The package leaked and now you have a puddle of meat juice sitting at the bottom of your fridge. Cool. If you wipe that up with reusable sponges or cloths, you now have to clean those well, too, says Nancy Bock of the American Cleaning Institute, or risk swishing bacteria right back onto your kitchen surfaces the next time you use 'em.
Paper towels or disinfectant wipes are therefore easiest and most sanitary to use for meat spills. If you prefer to be green, microfiber cloths are better than sponges because you can rinse them (fairly clean) and then throw them into the laundry.
3. Any ol' cleaner just won't do.
"Cleaning" refers to removing dirt or debris from a surface, Bock says. A product marked as a cleaner may also remove germs, but in order to do that for certain, you need to choose something that can "sanitize," or kill 99.9 percent of the germs on the surface. Diluted bleach (one tablespoon to a gallon of water) will do the trick. If you're using anything else, read the packaging. And be sure you use the cleanser properly; many need to sit on the surface for some length of time to ensure germs are killed.
4. There's hope for your upholstery.
What if there's a total meat tray fail in the car? Act fast and you won't breed nasty germs (or smells). Soak up any wetness you can with paper towels. Then apply a sanitizing carpet or upholstery cleanser (yes, this is a thing!) or use a steam cleaner appliance, which can also kill germs.
5. The sink needs attention, too.
Just because the water is always flowing doesn't mean your sink's germs just go down the drain. After prepping meat, fill the sink with about a gallon of water and add that tablespoon of bleach. Swish it around, and use a sponge to wipe the solution up the sides. Leave the sponge in the water (to sanitize it, too) for a full five minutes, then drain and rinse both sink and sponge.
Read more: 4 Things to Know About Meat Safety