Cooks who are new to the kitchen are usually far more concerned with making sure their recipes turn out right than with making sure they follow all food safety rules. In their desperation to make sure their cake, sauce or roast turns out right, they can create a bacterial danger zone that will leave their diners fondly remembering a time when their intestines didn't feel like they were tied in knots. A few food safety tips can help prevent such disasters.Wash, wash, wash: Make sure that all tools and food contact surfaces are washed thoroughly with soap and water after each and every step in the cooking process. Keep a spray bottle filled with a mix of 1 tablespoon of bleach per gallon of water to sterilize countertops.Watch your temperatures: Make sure that cold food is kept cold and hot food is kept hot. When you have a large quantity of hot food, such as a pot of soup, that you want to store, put the pot in a sink half-filled with ice and water. Stir the soup frequently until the temperature has dropped below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, then package and store.Careful with chemicals: Never, EVER keep cleaning chemicals on or near food contact surfaces. Bumping a spray bottle the wrong way can cause it to discharge small amounts of cleaning solution, perhaps in the direction of your food.Watch out for wood: Wood cutting boards are attractive, and they're the best for your knife blades. However, cutting meat on a traditional wood cutting board makes tiny crevices into which bacteria can nestle, becoming difficult or impossible to remove during washing. Save the wooden board for your salad greens.Most cities' health departments offer courses in food safety for home cooks. They are usually one or two days, at most, and can be of tremendous worth. If your city doesn't offer one, check online. There are abundant resources from the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Andrew Krause is a Chef and Pastry Chef for over 30 years, at persent I own a Gourmet Bakery called The Cheese Confectioner.You can visit my site at For Free