How to avoid cross-contamination

Cross-contamination occurs when biological, physical or chemical agents pass from a contaminated product to another.

How to avoid cross-contamination by adhering to basic procedures when handling and preparing food. The likelihood of bacterial cross-contamination increases when raw food contacts or spills onto prepared food, utensils, or surfaces. It can be avoided by:

  • use different utensils, plates and chopping boards for raw and cooked food
  • wash utensils, plates and chopping boards for raw and cooked food thoroughly between operations
  • make sure you do not wash raw meat
  • wash hands after touching raw food and before you handle ready-to-eat food
  • cover raw food, including meat, and keeping it separate from ready-to-eat food
  • use any dish that has a lip to prevent spillages
  • store covered raw meat, poultry, fish and shellfish on the bottom shelf of your fridge
  • use different utensils, plates and chopping boards for raw and cooked food
  • make sure you take enough shopping bags to pack raw and ready-to-eat food separately
  • take extra bags to pack cleaning products and other household items separately from food
  • label or colour code your bags to show what you intend to use them for
  • check your bags for spillages after every use. If there has been visible spillage, soiling or damage, plastic bags for life should ideally be used for another purpose (where no safety risk will occur) or replaced
  • consider using cotton/fabric bags for life as they can be put in the washing machine and cleaned
  • replace old plastic bags
  • keep raw and ready to eat foods separate in your shopping trolley or basket