How To Prevent Cross-Contamination Of Food In A Commercial Kitchen

From the General Manager to the supervisors, and the Head Chef in his or her chef whites down to the line cook who prepares the ingredients for the dishes, they should always ensure that the food preparation happens in a clean and hygienic manner, so as to prevent cross contamination of food which can cause disease and illness, and may even result in the restaurant being closed down by health authorities.

Cross contamination in general terms is the spread of bacteria around the kitchen, from food to equipment, surfaces and hands, and back to other food. Customers can get very severe food poisoning from consuming contaminated food, which is why restaurant owners try their best to prevent such situations from arising by following stringent procedures for cleanliness, hygiene and sanitation.

Cross contamination of food can be prevented by using proper methods and by adopting procedures for staff to follow regarding personal hygiene, as well as storing and food preparation methods.

The following are some procedures that should be followed by all staff working in a restaurant with regard to their personal and work space hygiene.

Clothing – Uniforms such as cook shirts, hats and chef aprons should be worn at all times during food preparation and handling, and staff should not be allowed to prepare food while in their normal day-to-day clothes since these could bring in contaminants from the outside. Uniforms should be washed and cleaned on a daily basis.
Personal hygiene – Nails should be kept short and clean, and staff should shower before they get into their uniforms and start the daily work routine.
Accessories – Accessories such as jewelry, watches etc should be removed before starting to handle food.
Hair – Employees with long hair should tie their hair back and wear a hair net, in addition to wearing a chef hat.
Washing hands – Regular washing of hands should be encouraged among staff, and anti-bacterial soap and paper towels to dry their hands, should be kept available at all times.
Damaged utensils – Utensils that have any form of damages or shows signs of wear and tear should be discarded since bacteria can form between crevices.
Work surfaces – These should be cleaned with disinfectant regularly, and proper cleaning done at least once every day. Hot soapy water and antibacterial spray or wash are a must for cleaning surfaces.
Equipment and utensils – Equipment and utensils should be properly cleaned and stored on shelves.
Cleaning equipment – Different cleaning equipment such as brooms, mops, cleaning cloth and sponges should be used for the different areas.
Towel drying – Towel drying of dishes should not be done, since there could be contaminants on these towels which will then transfer to the dishes.
Procedures to follow with regard to food storage and temperatures.

Raw meats – Raw meat, poultry and seafood should be stored on the bottom-most shelves of the freezer, in order to prevent juices from them dripping to other food.
Cooked food – Cooked food should be kept away from raw food, and should never be stored together.
Eggs – Eggs should be kept refrigerated and in their original containers from the time they are received, in order to prevent spoiling and breakages.
Temperature – Refrigerator and freezer temperatures should be kept at the right level at all times. According to legal regulations the right temperature for freezers and cold storage rooms is 8oC or below.
Hot food – Hot food should never be placed in a refrigerator as it can change the temperature level inside it.
Containers – Containers used for food storage should be properly labelled.
During food preparation, the following procedures should be followed in order to prevent cross-contamination of food.

Color coding – Utensils such as cutting boards, knives, storage containers etc should be color coded so that different items are used for different foods.
Raw food – Raw food, especially meats, should not be washed, as water could splash to other surrounding surfaces and contaminate them.
Fruits and vegetables – These should be washed properly even if they are going to be peeled.
Utensils – Utensils used for food preparation should be cleaned and washed immediately after using them and stored away.
By following strict rules such as the above, restaurants can ensure that they maintain a hygienic and sanitary food preparation service, which is an important part of providing a memorable experience for their customers and guests. All staff should be properly trained on cleanliness and hygiene and regular training sessions should be carried out to ensure that everyone is knowledgeable on what should be done.

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