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4 Food Safety Tips to Prevent Cross-Contamination

In honor of National Food Safety Month, we want to bring you some classic tips for preventing cross-contamination, as well as a few new suggestions.

Whether in a commercial kitchen or in the comfort of kitchen at home, the kitchen can easily become a breeding ground for bacteria.  While the majority of foodborne illnesses are traced back to commercial settings, such as restaurants and delis, bacteria can pose a risk in any type of kitchen.

Hand-Washing Helps Prevent Cross-Contamination

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In far too many outbreaks, the initial cause was traced back to lack of proper personal hygiene by food workers.  Proper hand-washing can help stop the spread of germs from hands to food and then from food to other people.  Hand-washing can also prevent introducing bacteria (i.e. from the bathroom) onto surfaces or equipment in the kitchen that can then spread to food or other items.     

  • Wash your hands before and after handling food.  It is recommended that you wash for at least 20 seconds (time for a good rendition of “happy birthday”). 

  • Be sure to get the front and back, between fingers, and under your finger nails.

  • Always wash your hands after handling raw meat, seafood, and poultry – and of course after using the restroom.

  • Be sure to dry your hands with a single-use paper towel or hand dryer.  No wiping your hands on your clothes to dry them.

Use Separate Equipment to Prevent Cross-Contamination

Unless you want to potentially spread illness-causing germs to your food, don’t place ready-to-eat foods on surfaces that have touched raw foods, such as meat, poultry, seafood or eggs. 

According to FoodSafety.gov, keep your food separate with these tips:

  • Use separate plates and utensils for cooked and raw foods

  • Use more than one cutting board – one for fresh produce and one for raw meat, poultry or seafood.  Be sure to replace these cutting boards once they get cracks or excessive cuts from your knives.

  • Keep raw meat, seafood, and eggs away from other foods while transporting them and when storing them in the refrigerator. 

 Disinfect Surfaces to Prevent Cross-Contamination

 During almost every outbreak, you typically hear about the restaurant or other business closing down for extensive sanitation efforts.  To prevent cross-contamination, clean and sanitize work surfaces, equipment and utensils after each use.  Hot, soapy water is recommended for most surfaces and tools, but commercial disinfectants may be needed depending on the situation.

 It is also recommended that commonly touched items, such as the refrigerator handles or cabinet knobs or pulls, etc. also be regularly sanitized.  However, keeping up with disinfecting all of these items on a regular basis can be incredibly time-consuming.  Furthermore, given findings in recent studies – you might think you are cleaning, when you are actually just spreading germs around that you can’t see.

 A study by the National Sanitation Foundation reported that “the item most frequently used to clean dishes and counter tops was actually the germiest place.”  They found that 75% of kitchen sponges and dish cloths contained bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella, both known to cause serious foodborne illnesses.  In 2016-2017, Florida food service establishments had over 20,000 violations related to their wiping cloths and the cleanliness of their linens. 

 Incorporate UV Light to Help Protect Surfaces from Cross-Contamination

Ultraviolet light has been proven effective at killing bacteria, viruses, mold, and fungus.  With advances in this technology, it’s now possible to bring this clinical-level of cleaning that’s been used in hospitals, food manufacturing and other settings for decades into everyday spaces.  UV light can serve as a great supplement to existing cleaning procedures to help protect against any areas missed or not properly disinfected, or for increasing the frequency of disinfection for hard-to-clean surfaces/areas of the kitchen.   In particular, it can often be a substitute for chemical disinfectants which can have a real negative health effect on the people that use them.  

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Violet Defense has a series of UV germ-killing lights that can be incorporated into kitchens of all sizes.  The S.A.G.E. Micro unit is portable (about the size of a book) and can easily be placed into a kitchen to disinfect counters, utensils, or other frequently-touched objects in the kitchen. 

  •  Wipe down your counters and equipment to remove any visible dirt or grime – using primary soap and water

  • Dry the surface using a clean disposable paper towel

  • Plug in S.A.G.E. Micro and leave the room to let it disinfect anywhere the light touches (sanitizing a 10’ x 10’ space in about 30 minutes).

  • Have a larger kitchen?  Simply re-position the unit, plug it in and run another disinfection cycle.

  • In a commercial kitchen or restaurant?  Consider our installed whole room units that can automatically disinfect approximately a 12’ x 12’ space at a pre-programmed time of day after your team has finished your daily cleaning procedures. 

 Contact us to learn more about how Violet Defense can help reduce your risk of foodborne illnesses in your restaurant or kitchen. 

Jessica Jones