Cross-contamination information for businesses

For businesses that handle raw foods (particularly raw meat and poultry) alongside ready-to-eat food the prevention of direct contamination or cross-contamination should be a primary concern. Ready-to-eat food (food that will not be cooked thoroughly before service) can be contaminated with bacteria present on raw foods unless operators put in place suitable controls.


Most food businesses will need to consider separation between raw and ready-to-eat food and disinfection methods in order to prevent this type of contamination. More specific examples of controls include:

  • Not using the same sink areas for preparing ready-to-eat food (such as salad vegetables) and for defrosting raw meat and fish;
  • Staff ensuring that they wash their hands at appropriate times and especially after handling raw meat or poultry;
  • The use of separate equipment, including colour coded knives and boards, being used for preparing ready-to-eat foods;
  • Covering and containing raw meat and storing it in a separate refrigerator or, if not, at the bottom of the refrigerator away from ready-to-eat food;
  • Use of a food-safe sanitiser can be used on preparation surfaces and boards after coming into contact with raw meat and poultry;
  • Ensuring that all equipment is washed at above 81oC in a dishwasher.

Further Information

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) have produced the following video for businesses to think about the types of food safety risks they face and how the risks can be controlled.

When you draw up your food safety management procedures we recommend you to take account of the detail contained in the Food Standards Agency guidance on the control of E.coli. The document provides guidance on preventing problems associated with bacteria like E.coli O157 and how you can comply with respect to areas such as cleaning, disinfection, personal hygiene and the prevention of cross-contamination.

Updated: 11 February 2013