How to prevent cross contamination

Cross contamination occurs when harmful bacteria are transferred to the foods, which can lead to serious health risks, such as food poisoning or involuntary exposure to food allergens. If your staff members kitchen They know how to prevent cross contamination by properly storing and preparing food, you can save the time and money that would be wasted on improperly handled food.

By making the effort to separate your food while storing and preparing it, disinfect your kitchen surfaces and equipment and by practicing proper personal hygiene, you can create an environment of kitchen continue food safety guidelines.

What is cross contamination?

safe food handling of steaks

Cross contamination occurs when disease-causing microorganisms, such as bacteria and viruses, are transferred from one food to another.

As a result, cross contamination is one of the leading causes of foodborne illness. Cross contact is most often caused by cutting boards, hands, or utensils. kitchen unwashed, such as knives and tongs.

While cook at food safe temperatures It will kill dangerous bacteria, most food contamination occurs when bacteria in a raw food interact with food that does not need to be cooked.

How to prevent foodborne illness

You can better prevent foodborne illness by knowing the risk of contamination at every step of your food preparation process. It is possible to contaminate food before preparing it, during preparation and even when food is served to your customer. Implementing a HACCP program or the program Analysis Hazards and Critical Control Points, will help you identify and control contamination risks.

Teaching all your staff how to prevent cross contamination can help keep your food safe from the moment it reaches your kitchen until delivery at the tables of your guests. By requiring the staff of your kitchen get food handling certification or food handler permits, you can ensure that your kitchen is a safe and sanitary environment.

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Prevention of cross contamination through food storage

You can avoid contaminating food before preparing it by using the correct food storage techniques. Proper food storage in the refrigerator is important to avoid cross-contamination, as many types of food are often stored in one place. In this environment, contaminants can easily spread from one food to another if they have not been adequately protected or organized. When organizing your kitchen, follow these guidelines for safely storing food:

  • Keep raw meats and dairy in sturdy, well-sealed food storage containers to avoid contact with other foods.
    • ServSafe recommends storing foods in the following order from top to bottom based on the minimum internal cooking temperature of each product: ready-to-eat food, seafood, whole cuts of beef and pork, ground beef and ground fish, whole and ground poultry.
    • If space and budget allow, store your raw meats and dairy products in refrigeration units separate from your fruits, vegetables, and other ready-to-eat items.

Prevention of cross contamination during food preparation

Even if food has been properly stored, there are still opportunities for cross contamination once your staff begins preparing meals. Use the following preparation practices to avoid cross-contamination of food:


  • Clean your surfaces before preparing food on them, and be sure to disinfect them between uses. If you don't clean a work surface after preparing raw meat, it will contaminate any food or equipment you place on it afterward.
  • For added security, use color-coded cutting boards to differentiate between supplies used for raw meat, fish, poultry, fruits and vegetables.
  • Try using color coded chef knives to easily designate your knives for the same reason. Following HACCP guidelines for color-coded knives, green knives should be used with fresh produce, white dairy knives, yellow with raw poultry, red with raw meat, blue for raw fish, and brown knives should be used with cooked meat.
  • To avoid contamination, equipment should be kept separate from food storage areas once it has been cleaned and disinfected.

Practicing proper personal hygiene

Sometimes contaminants remain on the hands and clothing of your employees. Here are some ways to prevent cross contamination from improper hygiene habits:

  • Ask your kitchen staff to wear aprons and hats to protect food from external contaminants that are carried in the body or clothing.
  • To keep hands free of contamination, have employees wear disposable gloves and ensure that gloves are changed when an employee begins to handle a new food or material.
  • Also have employees wash their hands frequently and thoroughly, especially when handling raw meat, fish, or poultry.

Safe food handling

Contamination prevention is not over until food is brought to your customer's table. That said, cross contamination can occur if utensils, glasses, and plates are mishandled while tables are set or cleaned. To avoid contamination when serving food to your guests, keep in mind the following tips on how to handle food safely:

    • When placing prepared foods, avoid using the same utensils to serve different foods. Have one for meat, fish and poultry, and one for side dishes like vegetables or starches.
    • Never put ice or garnish in a glass with your bare hands, but use a spoon or tongs.
    • Always hold utensils by their handles and not by the portions that will come in contact with your customers' food.
    • Similarly, have your servers handle your guests' plates by their base, without touching any part of the plate where the food can go.

Products to prevent cross contamination

Now that you know how to avoid cross contamination in your processes, In preparation, consider these products that facilitate the practice of sanitary habits.

    • Probe wipes are essential for sterilizing probe thermometers after each use.
    • Because they are used only once, disposable food thermometers help eliminate the risk of cross contamination.
    • The day of the week and product labels allow you to clearly label food in your storage areas, so your employees know what is stored and when it is safe for consumption.
    • Try color-coded probe thermometers to avoid cross-contamination while making sure your food cooks at safe temperatures.

To avoid cross contamination in your kitchen, it is important to practice sanitary habits during food preparation processes. Food can become contaminated as soon as during storage and as late as during service. Keeping your food safe means becoming familiar with its techniques and products to prevent cross contamination. You can refer to this article as a guide to getting started with practices that will help you manage a safe and sanitary kitchen.

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