Be Smart. Keep Foods Apart.

Cross Contamination

Cross-contamination is a common factor in the cause of foodborne illness.

Reducing foodborne illness by just 1% would keep about 500,000 Americans from getting sick each year, and reducing foodborne illness by 10% would keep about 5 million from getting sick. 

What is cross-contamination?

Cross Contamination is the process by which bacteria or other microorganisms are unintentionally transferred from one substance or object to another with harmful effect. When handling raw meat, poultry and seafood, keep them separate and their juices away from cooked or ready-to-eat foods and fresh fruits and vegetables. According to the 2013 Food Code, raw foods and ready-to-eat foods must be separated during storage, preparation, and holding. This simple action can prevent cross-contamination and reduce the risk of foodborne illness.

The best ways to prevent cross contamination include:

  • separating equipment
  • cleaning and sanitizing food areas
  • prepping food at different times
  • buying prepared food. 

Using separate equipment for each type of food is ideal. An easy way to accomplish this is to color coordinate cutting boards, utensils, and containers. For example, use yellow cutting boards, utensils, and containers for raw chicken, red for raw meat, and green for produce.

Cleaning and sanitizing all work surfaces, equipment, and utensils after each task is equally important. To prevent pathogens from contaminating food, equipment needs to be washed, rinsed, and sanitized. 

Prepping food at different times is another a great strategy for preventing cross contamination; prep raw meat, fish, poultry, and ready-to-eat food at different times. To minimize the possibility of contamination, ready-to-eat food should be prepped before raw food. 

Lastly, prepared food doesn’t require much prepping or handling, so purchasing ready-to-eat items reduces the risk of contamination. By following these simple practices, you will reduce cross-contamination and minimize the risk of a foodborne illness in your operation.

Remember, be smart, keep foods apart.