Food Safety Overview – Cross Contamination

Find out the proper way to store your food in the refrigerator to help prevent cross-contamination.

Food Safety Overview – Cross Contamination:
Just got some great deals on some fresh produce. Hi, my name is Lee Liguore and I’m a Registered Dietitian at Mountain Home VA Healthcare Systems. Did you know there’s a certain way you’re supposed to put your groceries in the refrigerator? Today we are going to talk about the order to help protect you and your family from cross contamination. So you may be asking yourself, “What is cross contamination?”

Cross Contamination:
Cross contamination is the physical movement or transfer of harmful bacteria from one person, object, or place to another.

This is important because a fully cooked food can become re-contaminated by touching a raw food or drippings from a raw food that contains pathogens. These pathogens can cause a foodborne illness.

Foodborne Illness:
So are foodborne illnesses preventable? Foodborne illness is a preventable, public health challenge that causes an estimated 48 million illnesses and 3,000 deaths each year in the United States. It is an illness that comes from eating contaminated foods. The onset of the symptoms may occur in minutes to weeks and often present as flu-like symptoms. Because the symptoms are often flu-like, many people may not recognize that the illness is caused by the harmful bacteria or other pathogens in foods.

So you may ask yourself, “What is the order I’m supposed to have my foods in the refrigerator?”

Before storing Foods:
Safe food storage starts with wrapping and covering your food. After that, it depends on the food.

Remember, properly wrap and label your foods. This helps preserve food safely and prevents drippings and cross contamination.

Now that your foods are properly wrapped and covered, you want to start on your top shelf with your ready to eat foods, such as your potato salad or chicken salad. Below that, you want to focus on your fruits and vegetables. And below that, that is where your raw meats and your poultry will be. This is going to help prevent cross contamination.

Cross contamination:
Now let’s put this process into practice. Are you ready to get started?
Let’s Practice

Our first item is uncooked bacon. So, where should the bacon go in the refrigerator? That’s right. Bacon goes at the bottom, to help prevent cross contamination.

Next on the list is a fresh pepper, where should the fresh pepper go in the refrigerator? If you guessed up top, you’re correct. This is where our fresh fruits and vegetables need to be in the refrigerator.

Let’s see where this container of uncooked eggs go. If you put it at the bottom, you are correct.

How about this fresh lettuce? That is correct. The lettuce goes at the top of the refrigerator.

How about the raw chicken? You guessed it! The raw chicken goes at the bottom of the refrigerator.

How about the prepared chicken salad? Very good! Since it’s ready-prepared, it goes at the top of the refrigerator. Great job!

How about the ground beef? That’s right! Ground beef goes at the bottom to help prevent cross contamination.

By taking the information we discussed today and putting it into practice, you can help protect you and your family from a foodborne illness related to cross contamination. I hope you enjoy this video and thank you for your time.

US Veterans