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Avoiding Cross Contamination

Last updated on 20th December 2023

It is important to follow steps to avoid cross contamination. Often people think that if they cook meat it will destroy any bacteria but if the correct steps aren’t followed then it can mean that the cooked meat can still become contaminated.

Following the correct steps will help stop raw foods and ready to eat foods coming into contact with each other. This will helps to prevent any harmful bacteria coming into contact with the ready to eat food.

Following steps

It is extremely important to follow specific steps in a kitchen, whether you are working as a chef or are cooking for your family.

If restaurants serve food that has been contaminated and their guests get food poisoning it can prompt a visit from a food safety office. It could result in the restaurant being shut down if they can’t practice good methods to stop ready to eat foods been into contact with raw foods.

It is also important to follow good methods to help reduce the risk of cross contamination in your home. The last thing you want to do is to give your family food poisoning, especially young children and elderly people have weaker immune systems.

It could take them longer to recover from food poisoning, or even worse the elderly relatives may not pull through from food poisoning, as it could make them even more poorly and they may die.

The main ways to avoid cross contamination

Following these steps helps to get people into a good routine and practice of reducing the risk of cross contamination. Once they have been carried out several times they will become second nature to people.

Shopping bags

When you go to do your weekly food shop it is important to take enough shopping bags. You can pack raw foods separately to ready to eat foods, this is another good way to reduce cross contamination. Bags that you can put into the washing machine to kill bacteria are recommended, these could be fabric bags. You could even label your bags so you know which bag is for the different foods each time you go.

Food in the fridge

Safe preparation

Food preparation includes lots of things such as washing, peeling, mixing, cutting, grating, sieving, portioning and serving food.

The main rule to remember at all times when preparing food is to protect it from any contamination.

These are important rules which you should always follow when preparing any food:

  • Wear suitable, clean protective clothing at all times, this means you won’t be passing bacteria that could be on your protective clothing onto other ready to eat foods.
  • Wash your hands before you start to handle food and throughout your shift. This helps to kill off any bacteria on your hands meaning you won’t be spreading bacteria from uncooked foods onto foods that are already cooked and ready to eat.
  • Use clean equipment such as chopping boards and knives when starting to cut new food. Using a clean chopping board and knife means that there will be no bacteria on them that could be transferred to the new food that you are chopping.
  • Use separate equipment for preparing raw and cooked or ready to eat foods. This is one of the best ways to make sure you don’t transfer any bacteria from one to the other.
  • Avoid coughing or sneezing over food, this means that there is less chance of bacteria from your body contaminating foods.
  • Use a new, clean spoon each time if you need to taste the food, this is another good way to make sure you aren’t transferring bacteria from your body into the food that someone else is going to eat, especially if you had a cold or a stomach bug, sometimes people don’t always realise they are poorly until they get different symptoms, so they could unknowingly pass harmful bacteria onto someone else by not using a clean spoon every time you need to taste foods.

Using separate surfaces

Use separate areas of the kitchen and surfaces for preparing raw and cooked/ready to eat foods. This helps to prevent the spread of bacteria, it is also a good way for people to remember when they need to wash their hands, if they are moving between uncooked foods and ready to eat foods.

Avoiding cross contamination

The ways to reduce the risk of cross contamination

Using colour coding on utensils and chopping boards can help people to identify which is the correct equipment to use.

A red chopping board is for raw meat, blue chopping board is for raw fish, yellow chopping board is for cooked meat, brown chopping board is for vegetables, green chopping board is for salads and fruit and a white chopping board is for bakery and dairy. This is another good way to help reduce the risk of cross contamination.

Boards should also be stored so that they aren’t touching each other. It is important to get a holder for the chopping boards so that they don’t fall and end up touching another chopping board. It also means that if a chopping board hadn’t been washed properly that the bacteria from that won’t be passed onto another chopping board.

Cleaning equipment properly and disinfecting surfaces regularly. Making sure that equipment is washed in water and soap hot enough to kill any bacteria.

When washing reusable cloths, the temperature needs to be at least 82 degrees, recommended by the Food Standards Agency. This is the temperature that is hot enough to kill bacteria, meaning when the cloths come out of the washer to be used again, they aren’t still full of bacteria.

Avoid touching high risk foods with your hands, instead use clean and disinfected utensils, such as tongs, that can be put straight for washing up after they have touched the contaminated food.

Avoiding cross contamination in the fridge

Separate foods, e.g. keep uncooked meat away from cooked meat. Raw meat should be covered and placed at the bottom of the fridge, so that the blood or the juices from the meat don’t drip onto any other food. Preferably uncooked meat could be kept in a separate fridge.

Eggs should be kept in the container that they came in, as this helps to prevent the risk of them smashing and someone missing some of the yolk when cleaning it up and some yolk and bacteria being left in the fridge, that foods could be placed over.

Hot food should be left to cool before placing in a fridge, as the heat from the food can cause the temperature to rise, which means bacteria can grow, it can then start to grow on foods in the fridge.

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About the author

Eve Johnson

Eve Johnson

Eve has worked at CPD from the start, she organises the course and blog production, as well as supporting students with any problems they may have and helping them choose the correct courses. Eve is also studying for her Business Administration Level 3 qualification. Outside of work Eve likes to buy anything with flamingos on it, catching up with friends, spending time with her family and occasionally going to the gym!

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