Prevent Cross-Contamination in Your Food Operation

Did you know that the eighth-most common food safety violation has to do with not separating raw animal foods from ready-to-eat products?

Keystone - News & Insights

May 24, 2017

How much do you know about cross-contamination taking place between raw animal foods and ready-to-eat foods? And why is it a problem?

Raw animal foods may contain harmful bacteria or other hazards and are a potential source of cross-contamination in any food operation, with the risk of causing foodborne illness. Having organized, designated areas for the safe storage of raw animal products and ready-to-eat foods will help prevent cross-contamination of foods.

Preventing cross-contamination between raw animal foods and ready-to-eat foods extends to the food preparation area. You should provide designated separate food preparation areas for raw and ready-to-eat products. If that’s not possible, then you’ll want to put procedures in place to ensure proper cleaning and sanitizing between products.

The Facts about How Foodborne Illnesses Can Spread

  • Bacteria such as Campylobacter can survive on kitchen surfaces for up to one hour.
  • E.coli bacteria can last for up to 24 hours on kitchen surfaces.
  • One study of restaurant operations showed that 37% of salads were contaminated with raw-meat bacteria.
  • 18% of knives that were tested in one study of restaurant kitchens were found to be contaminated with E.coli.
  • 43% of restaurants were found by FDA inspectors to have cross-contamination risks between raw animal foods and ready-to-eat foods during preparation or storage.
  • In one study, 72% of people failed to thoroughly wash a knife that was used in preparing raw chicken before reusing it to cut salad vegetables.

How to Avoid Cross-Contamination

  • Designate separate areas or implement proper storage order for the refrigeration of raw meats, poultry, fish, eggs and ready-to-eat foods to prevent cross-contamination of hazards.
  • Foods should be stored in reverse order of their cooking temperature—poultry on bottom shelves, ground meats above poultry, whole cuts of meats/fish above ground meats, and cooked or ready-to-eat foods on the top shelves.
  • Use separate food preparation areas or use designated, color-coded equipment for raw and ready-to-eat products to lessen chances of cross-contamination.
  • If the same equipment must be used, then properly clean and sanitize food contact surfaces and utensils between products.