Preventing Cross-Contamination: From the Facts to the Fundamentals

Restaurant operators are asked to do a lot of things, and just maintaining cleanliness standards can be full-time job, in and of itself. Preventing cross-contamination is one of the most important ways to keep guests & employees safe from foodborne illness. So having the right information can help you be prepared for everything from day-to-day operations to a body fluid spill.

The first step is knowing where cross-contamination can occur. There are some obvious places to look – cutting boards and table tops – but research has shown that there are other commonly touched surfaces that can hold germs, including napkin dispensers and condiment holders. The ability to identify these less-obvious hiding places for germs can help you break the cycle of cross-contamination.

Even the way surfaces get cleaned can leave the door open to a potential outbreak. Even commonly used cleaning techniques like reusable towels and sanitizing solutions have their downfalls and these best practices need to be closely monitored to ensure that germs aren’t being spread as a result of either soiled towels or from a cleaning solution with a concentration that is out of balance.

Having a robust cleaning and sanitizing program to prevent cross-contamination is just good business – but depending on which state you’re operating in, the Food Code may require additional policies and procedures. For example, the 2017 FDA Food Code requires restaurants to have written procedures in place to deal with body fluid spills. Additionally, some food codes require restaurants to have a disinfectant on hand that’s EPA-registered to eliminate Norovirus. This disinfectant should also specifically detail which pathogens it kills, and how quickly it does so.

It can seem an overwhelming task, but staying one step ahead of an outbreak is possible. Armed with knowledge and the willingness to pay attention to the details, you can create a clean, welcoming environment in your restaurant. Knowing where germs gather, how and why they can survive and spread, and what to do to eliminate them effectively will help you protect your guests, your employees – and your business.

For more helpful information on preventing the spread of cross-contamination, visit Tools & Resources.