Learn About Cross Contact and How to Avoid It

Have you heard phrases like “cross contact” and “cross contamination” and you’re not sure what the difference is? Cross contact is a big deal when it comes to food allergies; keep reading to learn the facts!

What is cross contact?

This is when foods touch and their proteins mix. You don’t need to see it, but each food now contains a small amount of the other food. This food is unsafe if you are allergic to that food or one of the foods it touched.

I thought that was cross contamination?

They sound the same, but they’re different!  Cross contamination is about food safety and bacteria or viruses on food. Cooking food is one way we reduce cross contamination. Food is unsafe for all if there is cross contamination, even those without food allergies.

Tips to prevent cross contact:

  • Always wash utensils, cutting boards and pans with soap and water.
  • Cook the allergy-safe food first before other foods.
  • Keep safe foods covered and away from other foods.
  • Don’t share food, drinks, utensils.
  • Clean counters and tale with soap and water after making meals.
  • Have different utensils and cutting boards for different foods.
  • Use soap and water or all purpose cleaner, not hand sanitizer.

What to do if you think you have cross contact?

Start over. There is no way to reverse cross contact, and even a small amount can make food unsafe.

What’s the difference between indirect and direct?

Direct contact = allergen was directly applied then removed

Examples are:

  • Peeling cheese off a cheeseburger to make it a hamburger
  • Using a knife to cut a cheeseburger and then a hamburger

Indirect contact = allergen was not directly applied but their proteins touched

This is less obvious so be careful. Examples are:

  • Not washing hands with soap after putting cheese on one burger and handling the other burgers
  • Using the same spatula to flip a cheeseburger and a hamburger

What about cross contact outside of my home?

We cover more on management at restaurants and while you are out and about in the next bundle. But yes, cross contact outside the home is something you need to be vigilant about!

Next up: Plan in advance to be safe at restaurants

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