Cross Contamination of Food

Follow workplace hygiene proceduresCross contamination occurs when one type of food becomes contaminated by either direct or indirect contact with another item of food which is already contaminated. Cross contamination can cause food poisoning when bacteria are transferred onto food that is ready to eat. For example, if raw fish comes into contact with a fish burger, the customer will consume the bacteria that were on the raw fish. Food Handlers have a responsibility to prevent food poisoning.

Causes of Cross Contamination

Listed below are some of the activities of food handlers which may cause cross contamination of food:

  • Using the same knife or chopping board to cut raw meat and ready‐to‐eat foods (e.g. salads, cooked quiche etc.)

  • Defrosting food or placing dirty utensils and equipment in the hand wash basin

  • Storing food uncovered or on the floor of the fridge or cool room

  • Storing raw food above ready‐to‐eat food

  • Keeping cleaning chemicals next to dry and tinned foods

  • Re‐using a cloth to wipe benches, cutlery and tables

  • Using a tea towel to dry hands, which is then used for drying equipment, utensils or dishes

  • Not washing fruits and vegetables to remove soil, grubs and other residues

Preventing Cross Contamination

Food handlers can prevent cross contamination through the following methods:

  • Using separate utensils or thoroughly washing and sanitising utensils between handling raw and ready‐to‐eat foods

  • Keeping food covered and off the floor during storage and, as far as practical, during handling

  • Avoiding any unnecessary contact with food

  • Storing raw foods, especially meat, fish and poultry, at the bottom shelf of the fridge or cool-room to prevent raw meat juices dripping onto ready‐to‐eat foods

  • Keeping cleaning chemicals and other non‐food items stored away from food items

  • Regularly changing, or washing and sanitising cloths used for wiping benches, tables or other equipment

  • Never use cloths used for cleaning toilets or similar areas for cleaning anything that may come in contact with food

  • Ideally, letting equipment and utensils air dry after washing and sanitising

  • Always washing your hands when changing tasks, starting work or returning from a break (including a cigarette or toilet break)

Food Handlers can also prevent cross contamination by drying their hands after washing with disposable paper towel or with a hot air dryer.