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Cross-Contamination & Cross-Contact

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Food safety should be at the top of the list of priorities for every kitchen manager in every restaurant. The last thing you need is to receive a visit from the health inspector because a customer complained they became ill after eating food you served them. This may seem obvious to some, yet the Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 48 million people become ill from foodborne illnesses every year. Clearly, there is room for improvement.

The good news is that with adequate training and education, enforcing strict safety procedures, and providing the right equipment to your staff, most accidental foodborne illnesses can be prevented.

Safety Starts the Moment Food is Delivered

Time/Temperature Controlled for Safety (TCS) foods need to be stored at temperatures below 40° and must be used or discarded before they spoil. It’s a relatively straightforward procedure to keep TCS foods at the proper temperature. Simply make sure it’s at the right temperature when it’s delivered and place it in the cooler immediately after inspection.

Using TCS food before it spoils isn’t so easy. Employees may leave cooler doors open longer than necessary, use containers that don’t seal tight, or unwittingly use newer food before food that has already been stored for some time. This creates unnecessary waste by increasing the risk food will spoil. An easy way to avoid this is to use a method called first-in-first-out (FIFO).

FIFO ensures that food is prepared in the order it was received. Using the FIFO method is easy with the San Jamar Safe-T Label Dispenser. Organize up to eleven 1” wide labels or five 2” labels with the Safe-T label dispenser. You can easily separate the labels from their backing and it even has integrated storage for a pen and marker.

Use Color Coded Containers to Avoid Cross-Contamination

One of the easiest ways to prevent cross-contamination and cross contact is to use a color coding system that dedicates specific colors of containers and utensils for use in prepping certain TCS foods.

For example:

  • Use red for raw red meat
  • Use yellow for raw poultry
  • Use white for dairy
  • Use blue for seafood
  • Use green for veggies and produce
  • Use tan for cooked meat
  • Use purple for foods that contain allergens

Color Coded Storage Solutions

StorPlus Color Coded Storage Boxes come in a wide range of sizes and up to 5 different colors to choose from. Safely store all your raw meats in red containers on the bottom shelf to prevent contamination from dripping juices, while using green and white containers to store veggies and dairy safely on the shelves above. Transparent polycarbonate material allows for easy identification to reduce spoilage from constant opening.

Carlisle’s Color Coded Bronco Containers are available from 10 to 55 gallons. These round waste bins are made from extra thick durable plastic and have convenient features such as double reinforced drag skids, comfort grip handles, and snap tight lids.

But they’re not just for waste. They are NSF 21 and NSF 2 certified so they’re also safe to use for food prep and storage. And they are available in 9 colors so they’ll fit nicely into your color coding system.

Smart Lids Keep Food Fresh Longer

One the best ways to ensure food stays fresh as long as possible is to store it in an airtight container that locks moisture out to slow bacteria growth and prevent spills that create waste.

Use a StorPlus Food Pan and a Smart Lid to create a color coded air tight combination to keep food fresh longer and enhance your bottom line by reducing waste

Use Color Coded Utensils to Avoid Cross-Contamination

A common mistake that causes cross-contamination in the kitchen is accidentally using a knife or cutting board that was used to prepare TCS food (such as steak or chicken) to prepare ready to eat food such as lettuce or other vegetables that don’t need to be cooked. Color-coded knives, cutting boards, and other utensils are an excellent complement to your color coding system.

Cutting Boards and Utensils

A common trick prep cooks use to stop their cutting boards from sliding around is to place a damp towel under the cutting board. However, this as an unsanitary practice as these towels are havens for bacteria.

San Jamar Safe-T-Grip Cutting Boards feature anti-slip grip corners that hold the cutting board firmly in place eliminating the need for a towel underneath. These NSF certified, dishwasher safe cutting boards are color coded and feature an integrated hook for sanitary storage.

Sparta Spectrum Color Coded Cutting Boards and Brushes are also great tools to prevent cross contamination during food prep.

San Jamar Safe-T Knife Station provides sanitary safe knife storage for up to eight knives including a cleaver and a sharpening steel. It has a cool see-through panel for easy knife selection and it is dishwasher safe.

San Jamar Safe-T Wrap Station is an integrated solution for foil, film, and date label dispensing. It features suction cup feet to hold it securely in place to reduce the risk of cuts while using.

Allergen Control

San Jamar Allergen Safe-T-Zone Mat designates a designated prep area for allergen containing food. It identifies the 8 most popular food allergens (responsible for 90% of serious allergic reactions) printed on two handy sizes, 24” x 30” for prep area and a 12” x 12” size to place in the server window to identify an allergen free plate.

Using the wrong turner, knife, or cutting board can easily cause cross contact and accidentally expose allergic children to food allergens. San Jamar’s one-of-a-kind Allergen Safe-T Zone System solves this problem.

The Allergen Safe-T Zone system includes a purple Safe-T Grip cutting board, purple tongs, a purple turner, and a 10” purple chef’s knife. A durable purple case protects and stores all the components so your staff won’t lose track of them. When preparing an allergen-safe meal, they’ll have everything they need stored in one convenient place.

Proper Handling of Ready to Eat Food

Ready to eat food is food that can be consumed raw and doesn’t need to be cooked or food that is already cooked and ready to serve. It is important to ensure read to eat foods aren’t handled with bare hands and are protected from contamination by storing them in a covered container.

Carlisle EZ Access Hinged Lids are a perfect accessory for standard pans used to store ready to eat foods. Perfect for salad stations, buffets and prep stations, they seal tight to top of food pans and keep contaminants away from the food inside.  

Carlisle offers a wide range of products to help you control cross contamination and cross contact in your restaurant. Contact a sales rep today to see our full catalog of safe food preparation products.