National Food Safety Month Wrap-up

Week 4 of National Food Safety Month is Preventing Cross-Contamination During Storage, Preparation, and Cooking. In conjunction with this, Week 5 is Preventing Cross Contact.

This catchy animated video, set to the tune of Queen’s “We Will Rock You”, serves as a friendly reminder of the dangers of cross-contamination in the kitchen.

As the video so eloquently states, microbes can kill you. To avoid cross-contamination in the kitchen, many professional chef’s utilize a multicolored cutting board system to ensure that vegetables and meats are never prepared on the same surface. This is a great practice, as it takes an extra step to make sure that no one is affected by foodborne illness.

This document highlights the safest practices in terms of food storage, and includes information about wrapping food properly, and the order in which to store raw foods and meats in your refrigerator. Following these guidelines will allow you to keep microbes and pathogens in their proper place. Killing them and containing them is the key to keeping people safe.

Cross Contact

Another factor in causing foodborne illness is cross-contact. Cross-contact is when food containing common allergens comes in contact with non-allergen food or ingredients. According to,

Care must be taken in the kitchen to avoid contact between allergenic and allergy safe foods. For instance, while cooking, sauce from an allergenic food could splatter onto an allergy free food. Or there might be cross-contact, which is what happens when one food comes into contact with another, causing their proteins to mix. As a result of cross-contact, each food contains small amounts of the other food that may be invisible to us. For example, if a knife that has been used to spread peanut butter is only wiped clean before being used to spread jelly, there could be enough peanut protein remaining on the knife to cause a reaction in a peanut-allergic person. That’s why all equipment and utensils should be cleaned with hot, soapy water before being used to prepare allergen-free food.

Even a trace of food on a spoon or spatula that is invisible to us can cause an allergic reaction.

When cooking allergen-free meals, use utensils and pans that have been thoroughly washed with soap and water. If cooking several foods at the same time, cook the allergen-free meal first, then keep it covered and away from any splatter caused by other foods that are cooking. If you have handled an allergy-causing food, wash your hands with soap and warm water before serving the allergen-free meal.

This issue has become more and more important, considering a staggering 15 million people in the US have a food allergy, with 6 million of those being children. I was quite sad when I saw that Dunkin’ Donuts no longer makes my favorite peanut-covered donut, but considering that peanut allergies alone have tripled since 1997, I can understand why. Common reactions to food allergies include skin reactions, swelling, anaphylaxis, and even death. Extreme care must be taken to protect customers, and if this means eliminating the risk of exposure by eliminating ingredients, then it’s a smart choice. To a lesser extreme, issuing proper warnings, and ensuring safety in the kitchen when using common allergen-containing ingredients will reduce the instances of reactions and protect your customers.

For more information about Cross-Contact and Cross Contamination, visit the FDA website for guidelines, or the official National Food Safety Month website for activities. To order butcher paper, paper towels, plastic wrap, disposable gloves, and disinfecting cleaners, visit to stock up on everything you need to stay safe. Remember, microbes can kill you, and RJ Schinner is your go-to source for prevention.

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