By Tabitha Mishra
Last updated: April 23, 2022

What Does Cross-Contamination Mean?

In food safety, cross-contamination refers to the transfer of harmful bacteria from people, utensils, or raw food ingredients to ready-to-eat food products.

Cross-contamination can be managed by following basic hygienic practices and by keeping kitchens and other food handling facilities well organized.

Safeopedia Explains Cross-Contamination

Cross-contamination is one of the common causes of food poisoning, a condition that can be life-threatening in severe cases. More mild cases have symptoms that include nausea, stomach cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, body aches, and chills.

Preventing Cross-Contamination

Cross-contamination in commercial food operations can be avoided by adhering to the following practices.

Clean Often

Cleaning surfaces with soap and water will eliminate germs. These surfaces inlcude not only cutting boards and countertops but also hands, knives, and utensils.

Hands should be washed before, during, and after food handling and preparation. After dealing with raw meat, seafood, or eggs, every item used should be thoroughly cleaned and kept separate from unused items. Aprons and other clothing worn while preparing food products should be washed regularly.

Use Separate Utensils

Separate cutting boards and cooking utensils should be used for preparing meats and vegetables.

Likewise, separate utensils and plates should be used for cooked and uncooked food.

Any item that comes into contact with raw eggs or meat should be washed in hot, soapy water.

Follow Cooking Guidelines

Foods should be cooked until they reach an internal temperature high enough to kill harmful germs. Food that isn't served immediately should be refrigerated at temperatures below 8°C to prevent the growth and spread of germs.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides guidelines for safe minimum cooking temperatures.


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