What is Cross Contamination?
Cross contamination is a very dangerous situation for people with compromised immune systems. Side effects of cross contamination are foodborne illness, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and many other unpleasant things.
Unknowingly spreading bacteria is very dangerous for people who are fighting cancer as their immune systems are compromised by chemotherapy treatments. This makes their body unable to fight basic naturally occuring bacterias and yeasts in everyday food items.
How does Cross Contamination happen?
Cross contamination is what happens when you contaminate an item through one of the following conditions:
1. not properly sanitizing a surface
2. accidentally carrying over material from another task or
3. forgetting to wash your hands before beginning your next task
What we mean by switching tasks is if you are cutting onions and switch to potatoes, this would not be switching tasks as they both have the same type of bacteria. But if we switch major tasks, like cutting chicken, and then switching to raw potatoes, we need to sanitize in between. When we prepare items, to keep it as sanitary as possible, we start by preparing items with the lowest temperature required to kill bacteria in it, working up to the highest.
Refer to the Properly Preparing, Cooking, and Storing Food Charts in the next article for proper cooking temperatures and the proper refrigerator storage method to help prevent cross contamination.
The three easiest ways to get food poisoning are by:
1. not washing your hands
2. not properly sanitizing surfaces before switching tasks (cross-contamination)
3. not cooking or reheating your food to the proper temperature
Also, I hope most of you know this. But, just in case I will remind you. Never, ever, let cooked ready to eat food touch uncooked food. I cannot say this enough. Sanitize your surfaces. Wash your hands. Sanitize your surfaces. Wash your hands. And just to drive the point home one last time to make sure you fully understand the high importance of this lesson, SANITIZE YOUR SURFACES AND WASH YOUR HANDS!