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Cross-contamination can be direct or indirect, one example is if we pick up a doughnut we end up with sugar on our fingers. If this was something potentially hazardous, as just by handling a product you could handle another item or touch someone else causing cross-contamination. 

Another example of indirect contamination would be using a knife, when cutting an item you transfer parts of the food to the knife, if you then cut another item you’ll transfer and contaminate this new food item.

An example of direct contamination could be when a product on a high shelf in a fridge drips onto a product on a lower shelf or when two foods are in physical contact with each other.

Other examples of contamination include:

•  Food getting contaminated in transport or packaging
•  Damage to food packaging
•  Contamination from clothing
•  Poor housekeeping
•  Rubbish
•  Poor storage

We need to make sure we reduce the risk of both direct and indirect contamination; we need to look at ways this can be affected in the workplace and reduce this as much as possible.

Another way of indirect contamination is smoking; in the UK you’re not allowed to smoke inside any workplace, however when you go outside to smoke a cigarette you must make sure to wash your hands correctly, if you don’t wash your hands correctly any bacteria you come into contact with from say a door handle can get transferred to your hand and then your cigarette and then your mouth. When returning to work you must make sure to wash your hands again as any bacteria from your mouth is transferred to your hands, which can then be transferred to another person or food.

Always make sure your hands are cleaned well before and after you go for a cigarette.

A general checklist to prevent contamination includes:

•  Buying foods from reputable sources and check all deliveries carefully for damage and if you see any problems reject the affected item.
•  Check dates and apply good stock rotation
•  Store food correctly and immediately on delivery to avoid it being left out where it can be contaminated by other foods, smoke, or chemicals
•  Ensure personal hygiene of all in the food area and reduce visitors where possible to the food areas
•  Ensure good housekeeping and keep all areas clean and free of rubbish, dirt and pests
•  Regularly check food systems to ensure they are working correctly and keep good records.