Cross-contamination is the transfer of harmful bacteria to food from other foods, cutting boards, utensils, etc., if they are not handled properly. This is especially true when handling raw meat, poultry, and seafood, so keep these foods and their juices away from already cooked or ready-to-eat foods and fresh produce. When handling foods, it is important to Be Smart, Keep Foods Apart — Don’t Cross-Contaminate. By following these simple steps, you can prevent cross-contamination and reduce the risk of foodborne illness.
Separate raw meat, poultry, and seafood from other foods in your grocery-shopping cart. Place these foods in plastic bags to prevent their juices from dripping onto other foods. It is also best to separate these foods from other foods at check out and in your grocery bags.When Refrigerating Food:
- Place raw meat, poultry, and seafood in containers or sealed plastic bags to prevent their juices from dripping onto other foods. Raw juices often contain harmful bacteria.
- Store eggs in their original carton and refrigerate as soon as possible.
- Wash hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before and after handling food, and after using the bathroom, changing diapers; or handling pets.
- Use hot, soapy water and paper towels or clean cloths to wipe up kitchen surfaces or spills. Wash cloths often in the hot cycle of your washing machine.
- Wash cutting boards, dishes, and counter tops with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item and before you go on to the next item.
- A solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water may be used to sanitize surfaces and utensils.
- Always use a clean cutting board.
- If possible, use one cutting board for fresh produce and a separate one for raw meat, poultry, and seafood.
- Once cutting boards become excessively worn or develop hard-to-clean grooves, you should replace them.
- Always marinate food in the refrigerator, not on the counter.
- Sauce that is used to marinate raw meat, poultry, or seafood should not be used on cooked foods, unless it is boiled just before using.
- Always use a clean plate.
- Never place cooked food back on the same plate or cutting board that previously held raw food.