Cross-Contamination of Food


This happens when harmful germs, invisible to the naked eye, are spread onto food from hands, other foods, surfaces or equipment.

Food workers are consistently implicated in foodborne illness outbreaks. Preventing the spread of germs and cross-contamination of food is therefore essential to running a safe and effective food business.

"Every year there are a total of about 4 million (1 in 8) Canadians are affected by a food-borne illness - resulting in 11,600 hospitalizations and 238 deaths."
Government of Canada

“30% of foodborne illness outbreaks can be traced to poor personal hygiene."
Epidemiol. Infect (2008) 136, 65-72

Risks for Employers

  • Contaminated food entering the food chain
  • Food spoilage and wastage
  • Bad publicity
  • Reduced productivity
  • Potential compensation claims

Preventing Cross-Contamination

Foodborne diseases are preventable. Everyone has a role to play…

Good hygiene is essential for you to make or sell food that is safe to eat. Given 80% of all infections are transmitted by hands, keeping them clean and healthy is vital in the fight against cross-contamination in any food handling environment.

Food environments should ensure they have proper procedures in place addressing:

  • Cleaning and disinfecting of work surfaces and equipment
  • Storage and handling of food
  • Workers' awareness of how to avoid cross-contamination
  • HACCP assessment protocols to identify critical hand hygiene control points
  • Provision of appropriate hand hygiene stations in the right locations
  • Provision of effective skin care