Food Poisoning and Cross-Contamination. Learn how to stop food poisoning and cross-contamination so that your food is safe for your customers.
Bacteria and viruses are hitchhikers and they need help to get from one place to another. Most of the time we provide help when we are careless and allow cross-contamination to happen. The end result can be food poisoning.
What is cross-contamination?
- Cross-contamination occurs when bacteria and viruses are transferred from a contaminated surface to a one which is not contaminated. The bacteria and viruses can come from people, work surfaces or equipment, and other foods. For example, it can happen when bacteria from the surface or raw meat, poultry, and raw vegetables with visible dirt (such as unwashed potatoes), are transferred onto ready to eat food, such as green salads, rice or pasta salads, cooked meats or poultry or even fruit. The bacteria on the raw food are killed when the food is cooked, but the ready to eat food gets eaten without further cooking – bacterial and all.
How are the bacteria transferred?
- Hands are among the obvious culprits in transferring bacteria from raw to ready to eat food, but direct contact with raw foods, dirty chopping boards, knives, and other cooking implements can also spread the contamination. Chopping boards, plates, and knives that have been in contact with raw food need to be carefully washed with warm water and detergent, then rinsed and thoroughly dried before being used for ready to eat foods.
- Incorrectly storing raw food in the fridge by allowing it to come into direct contact with ready to eat foods, or allowing raw meat juices to drip onto cooked foods, fruit and other ready to eat food can also cause cross-contamination.
How should raw and ready to eat food be stored?
- Raw food, such as meat, poultry or fish, should be stored in a rigid container or at the bottom of the fridge to prevent it from coming into contact with ready to eat food or allowing meat juices to drip onto other food. Ready to eat food should be stored covered in the fridge to further reduce the risks.
What kind of chopping board is best to avoid cross-contamination?
This is where colour-coded chopping boards come in, the right chopping board for the job:
- Red = Raw Red Meats
- Yellow = Raw Chicken
- Brown = Cooked Meats
- Blue = Seafood
- White = Dairy & Bakery
- Green – Fruit & Vegetables
Plastic chopping boards are good as they can be washed at high temperatures in the dishwasher. However, any board should be replaced when its surface becomes scratched because bacteria can hide in the scratches.
When should I wash my hands?
Always wash and dry your hands:
- Before touching or eating food;
- After touching raw meat, fish, chicken or unwashed vegetables;
- After using the toilet;
- After blowing your nose;
- After touching a pet.
How should I wash my hands?
- It is best to wash your hands with hot water and soap for at least 30 seconds (this should last for at least the time it takes to sing a version of Happy Birthday).
- Rub palms together until soap is bubbly, then rub each palm over the back of the other hand – then rub between your fingers on each hand.
- Then its the backs of fingers (when they’re interlocked) around each of your thumbs, then both palms together again.
- Rinse with warm water and dry thoroughly using a clean paper towel or under an electronic air dryer.
And for safety’s sake remember to:
- keep hot food steaming hot
- keep cold food refrigerated
- cook food properly
- separate raw and cooked foods
- keep kitchen and utensils clean
- wash hands with soap and dry thoroughly
Learn more on how to stop food poisoning and cross-contamination so that your food is safe for your customers by downloading a copy of
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