Cross contamination occurs when bacteria and viruses are transferred from a contaminated surface to one which is not contaminated. The bacteria and viruses can come from people, work surfaces or equipment and other foods.
DO’S AND DON’TS IN PREVENTING CROSS-CONTAMINATION
· Keep raw meat and vegetables away from cooked food.
· Keep cooked meat above raw meat in the refrigerator.
· Clean and sanitise all equipment and benches.
· Wear clean clothing.
· Wash hands before handling food.
· Chop raw and cooked meat on the same chopping board.
· Handle raw food then cooked food without washing your hands.
· Use food handling gloves for handling money.
· Store food uncovered in the fridge or cool room.
Even when the recipe for a dish doesn’t include food allergens, they can sneak in. In a busy kitchen, with many different dishes being prepared at the same time, the risk of cross-contamination is ever present. The most common problems include contamination on hands or gloves, splashed or spilled foods and shared utensils or counters.
Food allergen cross-contamination can occur in many ways, including:
· A cutting board used for slicing nut bread is then used for dicing vegetables.
· Cooking oil used to fry shellfish is then used to fry onions.
· Sauce containing eggs splashes onto a plate being prepared for an allergic customer.
· Traces of egg yolk remain behind on a cook’s rubber gloves.
· Water used to boil cheese-filled pasta is then used to make spaghetti.
· Garnishes become contaminated with traces of crushed nuts.
· An inadequately cleaned utensil contains traces of egg yolk.
When preparing a dish for an allergic customer, make sure every utensil and surface has been cleaned with soap and water before use.
If possible, maintain a separate preparation area. Ideally, this should include separate frying stations for cooking fish, foods that contain nuts or peanuts, and other foods.
If the kitchen staff suspects that a dish may have been cross-contaminated, don’t take a chance. Prepare a new dish.