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Cross-contamination is where bacteria or allergens are spread between the food, surfaces or equipment. It is most likely to happen when raw food touches or drips onto other foodstuffs or surfaces where other foodstuffs are prepared. Cross-contamination is one of the most common causes of food poisoning. Cross-contamination also can transfer allergens to food and cause serious allergic reactions. Be sure to clean and disinfect work surfaces, chopping boards and equipment thoroughly before you start preparing food and after you have used them to prepare raw foods. You could pass on chemicals into the food and contaminate it if care is not taken. Use different equipment, including chopping boards and knives, for raw meat, poultry, and ready-to-eat foods, unless they can be heat disinfected in, for example, a commercial dishwasher. Always be sure to wash your hands before preparing food and wash your hands thoroughly after touching raw food and keep raw food and ready-to-eat food apart at all times, including the packaging material for ready-to-eat food. Be sure to store raw food below ready-to-eat food in the fridge. And if possible, use separate fridges for raw and ready-to-eat food.

You should provide separate working areas, storage facilities, clothing and staff for the handling of ready-to-eat food and have an effective workflow system to better manage food preparation. There should also be adequate refrigeration and storage to keep food safe at the right temperature. You must ensure that rubbish is kept clean and tidied and it is emptied regularly to avoid a build-up or overflowing rubbish. You must use separate machinery and equipment such as a vacuum packing machine, slices and minces for raw and ready-to-eat food. Separate cleaning materials including cloths, sponges and mops should also be used in areas where ready-to-eat foods are stored, handled and prepared. There must be adequate staff facilities so they can keep themselves clean, store clothing safely and wash during the day and after using the toilet. You should also make sure that all staff know how to avoid cross-contamination. And finally, always clean as you go and think about possible cross-contamination risks wherever you work.