Food Handling Cross Contamination | 4 mins read

The Relationship Between Food Handling and Cross Contamination

the relationship between food handling and cross contamination
Dakota Sheetz

By Dakota Sheetz

The Different Types of Cross Contamination

There are three different types of food contamination- chemical, biological, and physical contamination. Biological contamination includes bacterial contamination, which is widely believed to be the most common cause of food poisoning. The best way to avoid cross-contamination when handling food in all steps of the food supply chain, including storage, washing, preparation, cooking, and serving is to make sure food safety practices are maintained to the highest standard.

1. Chemical contamination- Food products contaminated by chemicals, including cleaning products in addition to some foods that naturally contain chemicals

To prevent chemical contamination-

  • Prominently label products containing chemicals
  • Keep separate products containing chemicals and foods
  • Understand what chemicals occur naturally in food, including which are harmful and unharmful
2. Biological contamination- Food products contaminated by substances produced by living creatures, including humans or harmful bacteria. Biological contamination includes bacterial contamination, viral contamination, or parasite contamination. These contaminations occur through saliva, fecal matter, pest droppings, or blood transference when handling raw food. Even a single bacteria can grow rapidly, especially under certain conditions.

To prevent biological contamination-
  • Wash fresh produce with running water
  • Follow strict personal hygiene practices, especially proper, frequent, and thorough hand washing
  • Keep food away from rodents and other pests
3. Physical contamination- food products contaminated by a foreign object during the production process. These objects may injure someone and may additionally carry harmful biological contaminants that can result in foodborne illness.

To prevent physical contamination-
  • Tie back hair and employ a hair net around hairs, including beards
  • Avoid using cracked or damaged cooking tools or silverware
  • Keep fingernails short and wear clean gloves

Avoid Common Food Contamination Mistakes

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Below are 4 ways to prevent cross-contamination when handling food-

1. Immaculate Personal Hygiene-

  • Store laundered clothing correctly in a clean and dry place
  • Do not reuse one-time-use protective gear such as gloves or hairnets
  • Never touch your face, hair, jewelry, or clothing while preparing food
  • Wipe face perspiration using cloth or paper towel, then wash hands
  • If you cough or sneeze into your hands, replace any contaminated protective materials
  • Notify supervisor of any suspected illness or injury
  • Wash hands properly and frequently
2. Safe Food Preparation-
  • Use separate utensils when preparing different types of foods
  • Wash cutting boards, utensils, countertops, and other items that make contact with food with hot soapy water
Apply special precautions when washing fruits and vegetables-
  • Cutaway damaged or bruised areas
  • Rinse under running water without commercial produce washes, bleach, or soap
  • Scrub firm produce with a clean produce brush
  • Dry produce with a clean cloth or paper towel
3. Separate Food Storage-
  • Tightly cover or seal items
  • Separate raw foods and ready to eat foods, as bacteria from raw foods can easily contaminate cooked foods. Ideally, various food groups would have separate storage units, but if your business is not able to accommodate separate storage units, follow the following refrigerator food hierarchy as diligently as possible.
Refrigerator Food Hierarchy-
  • Top shelves- Ready to eat foods that have been cut or prepared and will not be cooked
  • Middle shelves- Fruits and vegetables that have not yet been cut or prepared
  • Bottom shelves- Fish, raw meats, and poultry. These items possess the highest amount of bacteria and are most likely to cause harm should cross-contamination occur
Shellfish Exception- Store shellfish separately from all other products to avoid the potential for severe allergic reactions

4. Careful Waste Disposal-
  • Store and seal waste correctly
  • Regularly sanitize waste bins to prevent infestations
Following the steps listed above will help you continue to prepare and consume the safest food possible. Although America's food supply is considered one of the world's safest, the CDC estimates that each year roughly 48 million people, or roughly 1 in 6 Americans, get sick as a result of foodborne diseases. Among those infected, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 will die. These hospitalizations and fatalities are exceptionally tragic because they largely could have been prevented through proper cross-contamination awareness and prevention.

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Conclusion

  • There are three different types of food contamination- chemical, biological, and physical contamination
  • Chemical contamination occurs when a food product is contaminated by chemicals, including cleaning products in addition to some foods that naturally contain chemicals
  • Biological contamination occurs when a food product is contaminated by substances produced by living creatures, including humans or harmful bacteria. Especially when handling raw meats
  • Physical contamination- food products contaminated by a foreign object during the production process
  • Four ways to prevent cross contamination when handling food include immaculate personal hygiene, safe food preparation, separate food storage, and careful waste disposal
  • Various food types would have separate storage units in an ideal environment. If your business is not able to accommodate separate storage units, follow the refrigerator food hierarchy as diligently as possible
  • Although America's food supply is considered one of the world's safest, the CDC estimates that each year roughly 48 million people, or roughly 1 in 6 Americans, get sick as a result of foodborne diseases. Among those infected, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 will die
  • These hospitalizations and fatalities are exceptionally tragic because they largely could have been prevented through cross-contamination awareness

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