How to Prevent Cross-Contamination in the Kitchen

Cross-contamination in the kitchen occurs when you use the same tools and cutting boards to prepare things like raw meat or eggs that you use to prepare fresh produce or cooked foods, contaminating the food you eat with the bacteria from these raw items. To avoid cross-contamination, follow these safety tips.

  1. It starts at the grocery store. Although cross-contamination is usually thought of in the kitchen, it can also happen before you even get your foods home. When shopping at the grocery store, be sure to package raw meats tightly in plastic and put them in a separate bag from other groceries. Also make sure that your carton of eggs doesn’t contain any broken eggs that could leak on other foods.
  2. Use separate cutting boards. One of the most important ways to prevent food poisoning from cross-contamination is by using different cutting boards for meat and other items. Properly label each board, and never cut fresh vegetables, fruits, or breads on the cutting board that you use for meat or eggs. Also, clean your meat cutting board thoroughly and replace it often.
  3. Cook safely. When cooking, never use the same tools to flip raw chicken that you use to stir-fry vegetables, as this can spread bacteria from the raw meat. Throw away any marinades that meat was once soaking in, and always serve cooked foods on a clean, new plate.

Safe Food Handling: What You Need to Know [FDA]
Separate To Keep Food Safe [Home Food Safety]
Cutting Board Safety [Home Food Safety]

4 Tips for Serving a Safe Food Buffet

If you’re hosting a large party, you’re likely concerned with serving tasty foods, but your goal should also be to keep those foods safe for your guests. Here are a few helpful tips that will keep your food buffet just as healthy as it is delicious.

  1. Wash your hands. The first thing you should do when preparing a food buffet is wash your hands. This prevents you from spreading germs to your guests, but it also helps to keep you safe from food borne illnesses caused by raw meat, eggs, and other ingredients. Be sure to wash your hands each time you refill the buffet, as well.
  2. Cook foods completely. It’s safe to keep foods out on a buffet, provided that they’re cooked properly beforehand. Meats like beef and pork chops should be cooked to at least 145º F, while chicken and poultry should reach at least 165º F.
  3. Use the proper serving tools. If you’re serving hot foods, be sure to store them in a chafing dish, slow cooker, or warming tray to keep them from changing temperature. Cold dishes can be served in nesting bowls over bowls of ice, and they must stay at 40°F or lower in order to stop the growth of bacteria.
  4. Abide by the two-hour rule. Finally, never let foods sit on a buffet for more than two hours. Tossing food that’s been at room temperature for too long will ensure a safe and healthy party.

Serving Up Safe Buffets [FDA]
Serving Prepared Foods Safely [Whole Foods]
Holiday or Party Buffets [USDA]
Buffet Safety [NSF]

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