This acronym is an easy way to remember the factors that can cause bacteria and other nasty stuff grow and thrive.
Food: The type of food will determine if it is potentially hazardous. Foods from animals and cooked grains are both considered to have high hazard potential.
Acid: Foods that are highly acidic are potentially hazardous, including lemon and lime juice, tomatoes, and vinegar.
Time and Temperature: Stay out of the Temperature Danger Zone. Bacteria love to spread between 40 F and 140 F. It's the perfect environment for them to reproduce, and they can go all day!
Oxygen: Most bacteria need oxygen to grow. That's why we wrap our food in plastic and seal containers tight. Cut off the air supply!
Moisture: Bacteria need moisture to live and reproduce. Foods that are low in moisture are less likely to hold bacteria.
Doing the dishes may not sound like a raging good time, but make it a habit to clean the dishes after your meal. It takes a little time, but it's seriously important. You do not want a sticky, dirty kitchen. Bugs and rodents love dirty kitchens, and it's much easier to wash the dishes than deal with pests. Trust me.
When hand-washing dishes, use hot water to clean the food and sticky bits from the dishes. Apply soapy water to sanitize the plate and rinse with clean, hot water. Let the dishes dry in a drying rack. Run the water as needed, and try to limit water usage.
When you use the dishwasher, make sure to rinse dishes lightly before loading them in the dishwasher, and ALWAYS wash on a full load.