Food Safety for Food Pantries: Avoiding Cross Contamination

Food Safety for Food Pantries: Avoiding Cross Contamination



section 3b avoiding cross-contamination cross-contamination happens whenever you would introduce contamination to food within your pantry if you think about it there was the potential for food to food contamination people – food contamination and equipment – food contamination let's take a closer look at each category food – food contamination whenever a potentially hazardous food shakes hands with another food you run the risk of food to food contamination an example of this might be packing raw meat product and produce in the same box a leaking or contaminated meat package can easily spread bacteria to the surface of the produce when storing raw items that potentially contain dangerous bacteria be sure that there is no risk of leakage or contact store meat products on the bottom shelf and in separate leak proof containers equipment – food contamination any item that touches raw meat can contaminate other foods this includes the boxes that the meat was delivered in do not reuse these boxes there is the potential that juices from the meats found their way onto the inside of the boxes boxes that come with pasta cans salad dressing frozen hash browns fresh produce and just about anything else can very safely be reused tables and coolers also require special attention clean and sanitize all tables and coolers before you start your distribution use a cleaning and disinfecting spray and paper towels or disinfectant wipes avoid scented product they may not be safe for food handling environments be sure to allow tables and coolers to dry completely before use a wet table increases the chance of cross-contamination additionally a closed wet cooler is the perfect environment for mold to grow people to food contamination volunteers and food pantry workers must wash their hands before handling food people move we touch things we influence the environments around us this means that there are lots of ways that we can and do spread pathogens we use the bathroom and throw things in the dumpster we might be getting sick and not yet know it according to a study completed at the University of Michigan only about 2/3 of people were observed using soap and washing their hands in public restrooms of the people who did use soap 95% of people lathered for 14 seconds or less the Food and Drug Administration recommends that food handlers wash our hands for 20 seconds making sure that you have a sign reminding people to wash their hands can help but just as important if not more important is making sure that the sink is clean 74 percent of people who encountered a clean sink in the public restroom wash their hands with soap only 59 percent of people who saw a dirty sink did so sometimes were understaffed and we try to do more than we really should for example a volunteer who handles frozen meat should not also handle other food items there is a chance that meat juices from the frozen items could contaminate their hands and that they could share the bacteria with whatever else they handle sometimes we forget that gloves get dirty we don't feel the stickiness or dirt on the globe the same way we would if it was on our hands if you or a volunteer choose to wear gloves while you handle the food make sure those gloves are only used once and you have replacement gloves available make sure you lead by example and talk up the importance of cleanliness in handling other people's food this will go a long way towards setting the expectation that cleanliness isn't just nice it's necessary section three review do not store dangerous raw food with produce or other safe foods we're using boxes and equipment can lead to cross-contamination all food handlers must wash their hands before handling food disinfect and dry tables and coolers used in food prep and storage don't reuse gloves used in food handling

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