Cross-contamination is when the sum of biological, physical or chemical contaminants gets into food, making it risky to eat and putting people at peril of food-borne diseases. Cross-contamination is considered as the accidental transfer of contaminants from one surface or substance to another, usually as a result of improper handling procedures.
Cross-contamination in a food business often occurs as a result of: Food Handlers (e.g. microorganisms from sweat, sneezing/coughing, hands, clothing), improper food handling techniques (e.g. reusing utensils for different types of food), improper cleaning and sanitizing (e.g. not properly cleaning chemicals from preparation surfaces, dishware or equipment), improper food storage (e.g. storing raw meat on shelves above ready-to-eat food), improper waste disposal (e.g. allowing garbage containers to overflow), pests.
Cross-contamination is a huge problem for food businesses, so to minimize the risk of cross-contamination always: move around the business in accordance with the Food Safety Plan, use separate equipment or utensils to prepare raw and cooked foods, use separate equipment or utensils to prepare different types of foods, prepare allergen-free meals separately, maintain high standards of personal hygiene, handle and dispose of food scraps and waste properly (e.g. ensure garbage containers are sealed and stored away from food).