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Avoiding Cross Contamination

Avoiding Cross Contamination

The Culinary Institute of America

Many food-borne illnesses are a result of unsanitary handling procedures in the kitchen. Cross contamination occurs when disease-causing elements or harmful substances are transferred from one contaminated surface to another.

Excellent personal hygiene is one of the best defenses against cross contamination. An employee who reports for work with a contagious illness or an infected cut on the hand puts every customer at risk. Anytime the hands come into contact with a possible source of contamination (the face, hair, eyes, and mouth) they must be thoroughly washed before continuing any work.

Food is at greatest risk of cross contamination during the preparation stage. Ideally, separate work areas and cutting boards should be used for raw and cooked foods. Equipment and cutting boards should always be cleaned and thoroughly sanitized between uses.

All food must be stored carefully to prevent contact between raw and cooked items. Place drip pans beneath raw foods. Do not handle ready-to-eat foods with bare hands. Instead, use suitable utensils or singleuse food-handling gloves.

Proper Hand Washing

To reduce the chances of cross contamination, wash your hands often and correctly. Hands and forearms should be washed using soap and 110°F/43°C water for no less than twenty seconds. Be sure to wash your hands at the beginning of each shift and each new task, after handling raw foods, after going to the bathroom, sneezing, coughing, and so forth, and after handling any nonfood items.

Reprinted by permission from The Culinary Institute of America, The Professional Chef, 8th Edition (John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 2006).