Preventing Cross-contamination

Cross contamination is a major risk factor for foodborne illness. This video discusses the FDA Food Code guidelines to prevent cross contamination of food.
Preventing Cross-contamination - Videos

Instructors

Food Safety Retail Food Safety for Volunteer Groups Home Food Preservation Home and Consumer Food Safety Nutrition

More by Sharon McDonald, MEd, RD, LDN 

Food Safety & Quality Food, Families & Health

More by Nicole McGeehan, MPH, CHES 

View Transcript

- [Instructor] Preventing cross-contamination is critical to food safety.

Cross-contamination is defined as the transfer of harmful microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, and parasites from a contaminated source to a food or food contact surface.

These harmful microorganisms or pathogens can then cause illness when that contaminated food is consumed.

Cross-contamination can occur in a number of ways.

One example is when harmful bacteria from raw meat or poultry are transferred by an uncleaned cutting board or utensil to a ready-to-eat food such as a salad, fruit, or sandwich.

Other ways cross-contamination can occur include ready-to-eat foods placed on a contaminated surface, a food worker touches contaminated food and then touches ready-to-eat food, contaminated ingredients are added to food that receives no further cooking, and contaminated cleaning cloths touch food contact surfaces.

There are many things you can do to prevent cross-contamination.

By following some simple steps, you can prevent cross-contamination and reduce the risk of food-borne illnesses.

One, keep raw food separate from ready-to-eat foods.

Pathogenic or disease-causing bacteria from raw meats, poultry, seafood, and eggs can contaminate ready-to-eat foods during storage, handling, and preparation.

Drips from raw foods can contain hundreds of bacterial cells that can make their way to ready-to-eat foods through hands, surfaces, or directly, when one is placed on or next to the other.

To prevent this, simply keep raw and ready-to-eat foods separate.

In storage, store ready-to-eat foods above raw foods.

Two, while preparing food, wash your hands and food contact surfaces often, especially after working with raw foods.

Remember, as you work in your kitchen or food preparation area, wash hands, clean kitchen surfaces, wash cutting boards and utensils, sanitize surfaces and utensils.

Other tips for preventing cross-contamination are use different colored cutting boards and utensils for each type of food you are preparing.

For example, you can use a red cutting board and red-handled knife for preparing raw meat, a green cutting board and green-handled knife for vegetables, and so on.

Separate and save some marinade for serving later on the finished food.

If you would like to use sauce for basting, separate some out before marinading the meat.

Prepare ready-to-eat foods at a different time than raw foods.

When preparing food, consider preparing items that will not be cooked first.

For example, cut up salad ingredients, fruit for a fruit salad, or make deli sandwiches first.

Clean and sanitize the area and the utensils you used.

Next, prep any raw meats, such as making hamburger patties, cutting up chicken, or seasoning meats for cooking.

It is not necessary to wash chicken or turkey.

Food safety experts recommend not washing meat or poultry before cooking.

Washing meat and poultry under running water increases the risk of cross-contamination by the splashing of water onto countertops and other surfaces that may not then receive proper cleaning.

Use clean plates when serving food from food bars.

Buy prepared foods.

When preparing and handling foods in areas where the prevention of cross-contamination may be difficult, consider buying and serving items already pre-prepared.

For example, rather than making up your own hamburger patties, buy premade patties.

When it comes to cut-up fruit and vegetables, buying packaged salads or cut-up fruit eliminates the potential for cross-contamination with raw foods.

While these items may be more expensive, they may be a better choice depending upon your situation.

By following the simple steps discussed, you can prevent the spread of harmful bacteria that cause food-borne illness.

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