Common house kitchen sanitation
From: Berrins (
Date: Thu, 27 Jan 2000 23:23:50 -0700 (MST)
In a message dated 1/27/2000 11:41:38 AM, stuart [at] writes:

<< Mmm.  I'm one of those people who have a vague feeling that this issue
is getting blown out of proportion (though I remain open minded to new
information about it - I'm certainly no expert about food poisoning
issues).  I feel the case for a need to take more precautions than what
comes naturally to the average cohouser hasn't yet been made

It's not just that I didn't die.  I don't believe anyone has exhibited
any case in which anyone got sick because they ate a community meal at a
cohousing community.  If there *have* been any cases I'd love to hear
about them.  But, assuming there haven't been any, it would seem that
what comes naturally to John Q. Cohouser is mostly good enough.  It
seems to me that the need to start using measures like forbidding
sponges, bleaching the counters, using color-coded cutting boards, etc,
really isn't established.

(I'm all for cooking food thoroughly, putting the leftovers away
promptly, washing hands, etc). >>


Obviously, this issue extends far beyond cutting boards into the general 
issue of kitchen sanitation.  Is food poisoning rare?  No; someone posted the 
figures earlier, and every year thousands of people die from it.  On the 
other hand, it's a low enough figure that it's unlikely anyone in a 
particular community will die of it.  As cohousing grows, however, that 
likelihood increases.  There is also a real good chance that someone will 
become sick (okay, not deathly ill, but sick nonetheless), from a highly 
preventable food bug.

So, that said, could there be anyone out there who opposes good sanitation 
habits in the Common House Kitchen?  I doubt it.  So what's the big deal 
about learning some good sanitation habits and using them? It's not overkill; 
it's just the right way to clean up.  If that means not using sponges and 
sticking with clean dry hand towels, so what?  I can make the switch without 
giving it a second thought.  And if next year the experts say toss the towel 
and use the sponges, I'll switch again.

Good sanitation pratices are just another important thing we can share in 
cohousing.  I'd like to learn how to make cabinets; I can give others some 
cooking tips and instruction on good habits on cooking with others in a 
kitchen.  E.g., clearing off the space behind you so that someone else can 
use it, getting your pots and bowls into the sink to soak, putting things 
away so the next person can find them, the safest way to walk around the 
kitchen with a knife.  When we show people how to use the equipment in the 
Common House kitchen, we'll throw in a workshop on sanitation and trust that 
people will listen.

The kitchen issue brings us to another, larger, issue; "How clean is clean 
When is the kid's play area too cluttered?  How often and how thoroughly do 
the bathrooms need to get cleaned?  Good lord, unit #13, when are you gonna 
clear that crap off your porch?   I'm curious how other communities deal with 
different levels of cleanliness.  Any good ideas or solutions?

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