Its quite a shocking statistic to absorb but its true and needs to be faced nonetheless. It is estimated that six hundred million people worldwide suffer from a foodborne illness each and every year. Although there are many causes, it is safe to say that many of those illnesses are caused by and are the direct result of cross-contamination. First of all, what exactly is cross-contamination?
Cross-contamination of bacteria is described as the transfer of germs from one surface to another. A lot of people think that illnesses contracted from food are caused by eating out at fast-food restaurants however, there are lots of different ways that cross-contamination can take place. The main ways that cross-contamination can occur is during the production of food, when the animals are slaughtered for meat, when the food is transported, when it is stored, during actual distribution, and finally when food is prepped including in restaurants and at home.
So we know when it can happen, the question is, how does it happen. Understanding the 3 main types of cross-contamination can help one to avoid the dangers of infecting the food we eat. The 4 ways that cross-contamination can occur are floor to floor, food to food, workers to food, and preparation equipment to food.
Floor to floor contamination – Many people fall prey to this type of cross-contamination. For example, cleaning the toilet floor with the same mop that is used to clean the rest of the house can cause some serious problems. To avoid the issues that this can cause, only use one mop for the toilet and make sure its a microfiber mop from Temples Pride, which does the best job at removing germs.
Food to food contamination – by mixing contaminated food with food that is not contaminated, the noncontaminated food instantly becomes contaminated. Food that has not been cooked or that has not been washed properly can hold vast numbers of bacteria such as Clostridium perfringens, Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria. Make sure to clean food effectively when eating raw.
Equipment to food contamination – this type of cross-contamination is the most widely occurring type of cross-contamination however, it is also the least recognized type. Germs can live for a long time on work countertops, cutting boards, food containers, and also the equipment used to process food. When food processing equipment is not cleaned properly this can transfer so many germs over onto food. Proper stripping of all equipment is needed and one must use adequate hot water to kill germs as well as the correct disinfectant.
People to food – this is another very inconspicuous method of germ transfer that happens and is very easily overlooked by people when preparing food. Besides the obvious fact that our hands can easily transfer bacteria to food, our clothes can also do the same. Its very easy to cough into your hand and not realize then go straight to preparing some food with your hands. Always clean your hands when returning to a food prep job even if you dont think you need to.