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Avoiding Cross Contamination

Just about everyone has experienced the unpleasant effects of food poisoning at least once in their life. However, what many people may not realize is that cross contamination is one of the leading causes of this (and other) kinds of food related problems. In fact, many people do not realize just how dangerous cross contamination can be. For some real life examples of how bad this can actually be all you really need to do is turn on the television or radio and listen. On the average, there is at least one or two stories going on any given day that talks about some form of a cross contamination problem.

Avoiding cross contamination is really a fairly simple task, and one that any home chef should take the time to learn. In fact, there are only three areas that people should keep an eye on to be able to properly avoid cross contamination between different types of food. These three areas are listed below, the way that they can contribute to cross contamination, as well as how you can combat this problem.

  • Personal. Perhaps the single leading cause of cross contamination of food items is through improper personal hygiene. In this instance, personal hygiene does not necessarily refer to whether you have taken a bath or shower that day, or whether you put on any deodorant. Rather, this is talking about whether you have washed your hands after handling raw meat, or even after you have handled any vegetables. There are two ways that you can avoid cross contamination in this manner, and the first is by washing your hands completely and thoroughly after handling raw meat or vegetables. The second method is to wear disposable gloves when preparing your food, and changing them frequently. In fact, if you do decide to use disposable gloves, then you should dispose of them each time that you plan on handling a different type of food product.
  • Workspace. Just as with personal hygiene, you need to consider workspace hygiene if you want to avoid cross contamination. Always take time to wipe down, and clean your work area before you use it, while you are using it, and after you are finished using it. There really isn't any such beast as too clean when dealing with your workspace. Whenever you finish handling, or cutting any kind of meat or poultry be sure that you wash down the area with a clean, warm, wet rag to help greatly reduce the chances of cross contamination. Once you are completely finished cooking, or mixing your ingredients, thoroughly wash the area that you worked in with warm soapy water.
  • Tools. As with the personal and workspace areas, you need to be worried about the hygiene of your tools as well. Check all your cooking tools prior to using them to ensure that they are completely clean. If there is even the slightest hint or question about cleanliness, take the time to clean your tools. After you are finished using a tool to cut, handle, or prepare an ingredient, take the time to rinse it off before using the same tool on another ingredient.
 

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