Cross-contamination happens when juices from raw meats or germs from unclean objects touch cooked or ready-to-eat foods. And cross-contamination is how harmful bacteria can spread. Here are a few steps you can take during the purchasing, handling, cooking, and storing processes to reduce the risk of cross-contamination and food poisoning.
- When shopping, make sure to keep produce and ready-to-eat foods separated in your grocery cart from fresh or frozen, raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs. When bagging foods do the same, place meat, poultry, and seafood in plastic bags separate from produce and ready-to-eat foods to prevent juices from leaking.
- If you will not be able to go straight home from the store, you should place a cooler with cold packs or insulated bags in your car before going grocery shopping.
- If you buy perishable foods at the grocery store, make sure to refrigerate or freeze them within two hours.
- Keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator in a sealed container or plastic bag to ensure juices don’t drip onto ready-to-eat foods.
- Keep eggs in their original container and store on shelves in the refrigerator, not in the door.
- If you use reusable totes, make sure to wash them often with hot, soapy water or in the washing machine. Store totes in a clean, dry, location. And do not store in the trunk of a vehicle.
- When preparing foods, take special precautions. Wash hands thoroughly with warm, soapy water for 20 seconds before, during, and after handling raw meats and foods.
- Always use two plates when cooking raw meats: one for the raw meat and one for the cooked meat.
- Always use separate utensils when cooking raw meats: utensils for the raw meat and utensils for the cooked meat.
- Always use separate cutting boards: one for meat, poultry, and seafood and one for produce and ready-to-eat foods.