When disease-causing microorganisms are transferred from one food or surface to another, cross-contamination has occurred. In restaurants and other foodservice establishments, pathogens can be spread from food or unwashed hands to prep areas, equipment, utensils or other food. Fortunately there are things you can do to prevent cross contamination. Here are five tips for preventing it in your restaurant’s kitchen.
Incorporate a hand hygiene program into your employee training that teaches employees how and when to wash their hands. This can go a long way in preventing the spread of pathogens. Put hand hygiene posters and guidelines in high traffic employee areas.
Store food in designated storage areas.
To prevent possible contamination, it’s important to keep food away from dishwashing areas and rooms that may contain garbage, heating and cooling equipment such as a furnace, and the restroom. Never store food near chemicals or cleaning supplies and keep it out from under stairways and pipes.
Store food in proper containers.
If food is removed from its original package, put it in a clean, sanitized container and cover it, such as these food storage containers. The new container must be labeled with the name of the food and the original use-by or expiration date. Make sure you’re wrapping the food properly as well. Leaving food uncovered can lead to cross contamination. Cover food with tight-fitting plastic wrap or aluminum foil.
Store raw meat, poultry, and fish separately from prepared food.
When storing raw meat, poultry and fish follow this storage order: whole fish, whole cuts of beef and pork, ground meats and fish and whole and ground poultry. Keep these items separate from prepared and ready to eat foods. If storing raw meats separately is unavoidable, make sure they are placed below prepared foods. Burkett Restaurant Equipment offers a variety of restaurant shelving to make this possible.
Color coded towels and cleaning supplies can be used to assist in the prevention of cross contamination by assigning different colors for front and back of the house tasks. As an example towels can be color-coded as: red for raw meat, blue for countertops, and white for dining room tables.