Avoiding cross-contamination

How to avoid cross-contamination by following simple practices in the preparation and handling of food products.
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Bacterial cross-contamination is most likely to happen when raw food touches or drips onto ready-to-eat food, utensils or surfaces. 

You can avoid it by:

  • making sure you do not wash raw meat
  • making sure you take enough shopping bags to pack raw and ready-to-eat food separately
  • taking extra bags to pack cleaning products separately from food
  • covering raw food, including meat, and keeping it separate from ready-to-eat food
  • using any dish that has a lip to prevent spillages
  • storing covered raw meat, poultry, fish and shellfish on the bottom shelf of your fridge
  • using different utensils, plates and chopping boards for raw and cooked food
  • washing utensils, plates and chopping boards for raw and cooked food thoroughly between tasks
  • washing your hands after touching raw food and before you handle ready-to-eat food

Cross-contamination is what happens when bacteria or other microorganisms are unintentionally transferred from one object to another. The most common example is the transfer of bacteria between raw and cooked food.

This is thought to be the cause of most foodborne infections. For example, when you’re preparing raw chicken, bacteria can spread to your chopping board, knife and hands and could cause food poisoning.

Cross-contamination can also happen when bacteria is transferred in ways that are harder to see. For example, via reusable shopping bags, or in the drips and splashes produced when meat is washed which can contaminate other surfaces.