Cross contamination

This is the 4th of the ‘Cs’ in relation to the prevention of food poisoning but is no less important.

Cross contamination refers to the mixing of raw food such as meat with cooked food which causes bacteria to spread between the two. This is an ideal way for harmful bacteria to spread into the human food chain and cause food poisoning.

So what do you need to know about cross contamination in regard to preventing food poisoning?

There are two types of cross contamination:

    • Direct
    • Indirect

Direct contamination occurs when one type of food touches or drips onto another type of food which may be raw or cooked. This usually occurs if juices or blood drips from raw meat onto a plate of cooked food.

Indirect contamination happens as a result of the transmission of bacteria from your hands, kitchen surfaces or utensils onto food.

Either way, it is important to stop the spread of bacteria which will prevent food poisoning.

Ways of preventing cross contamination

Here are a few suggestions for avoiding cross contamination which include:

    • Washing your hands before, during and after preparing food. This is particularly important if you are handling raw meat or chicken.
    • Ensuring that raw and cooked foods are kept separate
    • Do not wash raw meat or chicken before cooking
    • Use two separate chopping boards (and utensils) for raw and cooked food.
    • Put raw meat or chicken in plastic containers, e.g. Tupperware and place these at the bottom of the fridge (bottom shelf).
    • Wash knives, utensils and other equipment after it has come into contact with raw food such as red meat.

Remember: bacteria such as salmonella can spread very easily around a kitchen which also includes food. So store any food that you can in the fridge and keep any food covered which can be left out.

Clean all worktops with hot water and a good disinfectant. Wash dishcloths and tea towels regularly and replace them once they show signs of wear and tear.

Food Poisoning Guide

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