Cross-contamination Prevention Tips

What you need to know to prevent cross-contamination in your food operation.

By Kinnek Community

Preventing cross-contamination is critical in minimizing the risk of foodborne illness at your food service establishment.  Customer sickness can have a crippling effect on your business, leading to bad reviews and word-of-mouth, loss of repeat business, and even a personal injury lawsuit, depending on the severity of the injury and the negligence involved.

Cross-contamination occurs most frequently through contact between various unwashed tools and implements, such as knives, storage bins, hands, and cutting boards, which have touched raw and uncooked foods.  Bacterial transfer is the main culprit here, but it is important in most modern food establishments to consider the benefits of allergen cross-contact, too.  To maintain a kitchen environment that is friendly to customers with certain common allergies, any contact between the allergens-at-issue and the order must be minimized, if not eliminated entirely.

Restaurants accomplish these goals in distinct ways.  Consider implementing the following strategies to prevent cross-contamination.

Food Storage
  • Label or otherwise differentiate storage containers so that they can be easily identified and organized.
  • Make sure that raw meats, dairy, and other foods that can contaminate are stored in separate, sealed containers.  In some kitchens, raw meat and dairy are stored in separate refrigeration units altogether to minimize the risks, so consider that option as well.
  • Organize food storage containers in such a way as to minimize leakage and cross-contamination.  One common tip is to avoid placing meats above non-meat or cooked items (cooked meat, vegetables, sauces, flour, fruits, etc), as any leakage could drip down and lead to cross-contamination.
Food Preparation
  • Consider using certain tools (knives and other cooking equipment) exclusively for raw meats and dairy (and for certain allergen-products), and keeping a separate set for items with lower risk of contamination.  This is useful, especially for allergen cross-contact prevention, as washing an item is not an absolute guarantee that it will be free of offending molecules.  If you do implement this strategy, labeled or color-coded tools can help prevent any mixups.
  • Prepare foods on sanitized, sterile surfaces and cutting boards, and clean the surfaces thoroughly between items (or use separate surfaces altogether for raw meat, dairy, and certain allergen products).
Employee Hygiene
  • Employees should wear protective wear - disposable gloves, aprons, and headwear - to prevent contamination, and if employees go to the bathroom or outside, must take off the protective wear beforehand.
  • Employees should wash their hands throughout the day, and most importantly, before and after handling raw meat, dairy, and allergen products.  Employees should also change their gloves before and after handling these products.
  • Avoid work schedules that discourage employees from taking time away from the restaurant if they are sick.  You must allow employees to recover before they get back to work, else you risk serious bacterial and viral contamination, and germ spread.

Related Restaurant Equipment and Supplies

Get Free Restaurant Buildout Quotes from Multiple Suppliers


You have not completed the form. Please fix the errors above.

Related Articles

The Three Items of Merchandising You Need to Promote Your Brewery
Profile: California Winemaking at Cinnabar Winery
Commercial Measuring Equipment Purchasing Guide
Used Restaurant Equipment Purchasing Tips
Pizza Baking and Serving Tools Purchasing Guide
Pizza Oven Cleaning Tips
Commercial Juicer Purchasing Guide
Coffee Brewing Machine Purchasing Guide
Pest Control Tips
Whiskey Glasses Types
Commercial Pizza Oven Purchasing Guide
Energy Efficiency Tips for the Commercial Kitchen
Commercial Dinnerware Materials Guide
Overhead Warmer Equipment Guide
Kitchen Health and Food Safety Tips
Cutlery Purchasing Guide - Knives
Knife Maintenance Guide
Commercial Pan Liner Guide
Commercial Steamer Guide
Commercial Microwaves Guide
Commercial Grill Guide
Commercial Waste Processor and Disposer Guide
Exhaust Hood Purchasing Guide
Self-Service Food Holding Equipment Guide
Commercial Food Preparation Equipment Guide
Popcorn Concession Equipment Guide
Kitchen Work Table Purchasing Guide
Pots, Pans, and Skillets - A Cookware Guide
Commercial Toaster Purchasing Guide
Food Storage Equipment Purchasing Guide
Commercial Range Purchasing Guide
Commercial Oven Maintenance & Cleaning Tips
Full-Size Commercial Oven Purchasing Guide
Deli Equipment Purchasing Guide
Commercial Ice Maker Purchasing Guide
Ceramic Mugs Purchasing Guide
Beer Glasses Purchasing Guide
Wine Stemware Purchasing Guide
Commercial Fryer Purchasing Guide
Commercial Refrigerator Guide
Brew Trends: Cooperative Craft Brewing (Part 1)
The Case for Cans: Trends in Craft Beer Canning
The Rise of the Cider Bar: Wassail NYC
Profile: Urban Winemaking with Brooklyn Winery
St. Patrick's Day Pub Promotions: How Galway Bay Pub Honors Its Heritage
How to Purchase Commercial Dishwashers
What is a Beer Growler? A Beginner's Guide