Wonder why the salad you served gave your customer an upset stomach when you know for a fact that all the ingredients were fresh and thoroughly washed during preparation? There could be a simple explanation: cross-contamination.
When raw foods, especially raw meat and other raw animal products, come into contact with ready-to-eat foods, such as salads and pastries, chances are good that cross-contamination will follow. Cross-contamination is the transfer of pathogens from one food to another. It happens all the time unfortunately, and can happen anywhere, even in the best restaurants. It’s also one of the leading causes of food-borne illness in America today.
As bad as that sounds, there’s a silver lining: it’s easy to prevent cross-contamination.
Wash hands. This first step in food safety and in preventing cross-contamination cannot be emphasized enough. Among all food safety measures, hand washing is the easiest to do. So, require your kitchen staff to wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water before and after handling raw foods, and especially after they use the toilet. This stops dangerous microbes from migrating from hands to foods and, subsequently, prevents cross-contamination between foods. Wearing gloves and changing them during production is also good practice.
Different boards for different foods. Cutting boards and other food-preparation equipment can easily be contaminated by pathogens. To lessen the possibility of that happening, take two easy steps: one, they should be washed before and after use; two, they should only be used for the foods that they’re designated for (that is, there should be separate cutting boards for meats and vegetables). Color-code the cutting boards and utensils to reduce the chances of them being used for the wrong foods. That way, food service workers know that green boards (for instance) are used for fruits and veggies and red ones are used for raw meats.
Sanitize. Washing isn’t enough because it can’t kill the microbes that don’t get washed off. To do that, food-contact surfaces such as cutting boards, knives, and plates should be sanitized with a sanitizing solution or temperature after cleaning. Not all equipment needs to be sanitized but those that come into contact with food should.
No eating and smoking. Personal hygiene is an important component in the prevention of cross-contamination. Aside from regular hand washing, food handlers should be required to wear clean work attire, task-appropriate gloves, and hair restraints. Eating and, especially, smoking in the work area is prohibited. Both produce small particles that could contaminate foods and food-contact surfaces.
Storage basics. Store uncooked foods such as meat and seafood separately from foods that won’t be cooked anymore. This way the former doesn’t come in contact with and contaminate the latter. In fact, physical contact need not take place at all for cross-contamination to happen: if fluid from the uncooked crayfish drips on the romaine lettuce salad, some poor customer would probably be sickened enough to be hospitalized for Salmonella poisoning—and someone could end up in court.
The post How to Avoid Cross-Contamination with 5 Basic Steps appeared first on Learn2Serve Blog.
Source: TABC Blog by Learn 2 Serve