If you’re the kind of person who always wants to have the next cool thing before anyone else, you’d probably enjoy some of the offerings at this year’s 2011 International Home and Housewares Show in Chicago.

Last week, we talked about how color and texture are infusing a variety of new products introduced at last week’s show, including hot pink knives, a metallic red KitchenAid mixer, and graffiti-laced hard-shell travel bags.

In the kitchen, bright colors and textures are part of a new shelter trend. But as I discovered at this year’s show, the kitchen is also the first line of defense against germs and food-borne illness.

Do you hate going to children’s birthday parties or backyard barbecues where everyone is using the same style of paper or plastic cups? Not only does the resulting confusion create additional landfill waste, as partygoers continue to take new receptacles after losing track of previous ones, but the risk of sipping from the drink of another who may be suffering from a cold or other virus is sky high.

A company called Drink Flair is looking to change all that with the introduction of unique reusable static cling labels (sold in packs of 12) that clearly identify your cup as your own throughout the duration of the gathering. Large families may find these cute, kitschy tools an asset at anytime. No more waste, no more germ sharing. Drink Flair designer Anne Werth says, “It’s a simple idea with a new twist. People love them!”

But don’t stop there in the ongoing war against germs. Consider pre-screening your drink for environmental contaminants. WaterChef Premium Filtration Appliances feature trademarked filtration technology that offers up to 1,000 gallons of clean, safe drinking and cooking water. Bottled water purchases, which leave behind wasted plastic that may pose a health risk, can be a thing of the past.

From beverage to food, kitchen gadget manufacturer Cuisipro now offers a full slate of five specialty locking tongs, designed to adapt to the individual properties of a variety of foods such as panini sandwiches, stew, pasta and fish. Not only do the tools allow for the removal of various dishes from the grill or stove top without damage but the tongs, which bear different designs, allow chefs to segregate and prevent cross-contamination.

If you want to keep snack foods fresh and sanitary, the 1980s snack food standby, the Chip Clip, has received a 2011 food safety upgrade. Shrockie’s FishClip differs from the old fashioned version in its “grab and squeeze” methodology, which prevents unwanted air from creeping into the chips, keeping out unhealthy mold growth.

Lisa Casey Weiss, Lifestyle Consultant for the International Housewares Association says consumers are more aware and more concerned with food safety, water safety and home safety. “They are much more conscious and want products that give them more control over the unknown.”