Dirty Dining in homes: Are violations lurking in our own kitchens?

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Nov. 24, 2014) -- As many of us head into the kitchen this week, Dirty Dining is checking on violations right in your home!

You're used to seeing FOX59 go into your favorite restaurants, but this time Jill Glavan let Marion County health inspector Tori Thorn into her kitchen, along with two others.

"Absolutely they could make themselves sick," Thorn said.

First up, PR director and mom of two Jennifer Wagner let us inside. Not only does she cook for her family, she gets fresh eggs right from her backyard.

Yet, it didn't take long for Thorn to find a violation with those very eggs.

"(It) might be better to put them on a lower shelf," Thorn said.

Thorn said keeping eggs, especially store-bought and processed ones, in the door of your fridge could cause cross-contamination.

She found the same danger in Wagner's microwave, where food spatter on the sides could easily contaminate the next meal.

When she went to cook, Wagner made a mistake that Thorn saw in all three kitchens: she dried her hands on a cloth towel.

"We always recommend using a paper towel to dry with, because cloth towels can't stay super clean. Another recommendation is after you're done washing, ... (use) the paper towel to close the tab," Thorn said.

In all, Thorn gave Wagner three violations.

Next up, we stopped at Mary Jo DeMyer's house. An artist who cooks with her husband and teenage son, off the bat she made a familiar mistake.

"With your milk or dairy products, we recommend keeping them (inside), because your (fridge) door is the part that's going to be most affected by heat," Thorn said.

Another spot by Thorn: frozen chicken stock that DeMyer left thawing out on the counter.

"We would recommend that if you're going to thaw, you would thaw it in your cooler in advance or under cool, running water," Thorn said.

With that, and DeMyer's mistake when hand washing as well, Thorn gave her three violations.

"I'm going to be more vigilant about the hand washing and I'm going to try to think ahead about the frozen things I need to thaw out," DeMyer said.

Finally, it was Jill Glavan's turn. In her kitchen, Thorn found some near-violations right away, including lettuce that appeared to be on the verge of going bad and condensation on leftover containers.

It's when she checked the temperature of that leftover food, though, that she found the first violation.

"We're looking for 41 or below," Thorn said.

Thorn suggested that when you put leftovers away, you don't close the lid immediately. Instead, put the food in the fridge with the lid sitting on top.

"People think you want to cover your food. ... The one exception is cooling, because we want to let that steam out so the food cools properly," Thorn said.

Glavan's next mistake came courtesy her job: a ringing work phone that she picked up.

"If you're actively working on food prep, we wouldn't recommend that you answer the phone," Thorn said.

With another violation for touching her hair while cooking and hand washing, Thorn named Glavan the worst offender, with five violations overall.

She also provided valuable tips for the next time we take Dirty Dining into someone else's kitchen.

"You want to do everything you can to prevent food borne illness," Thorn said.

For more tips on safe preparation this Thanksgiving, go to the web exclusive video.

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