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March 23, 2020


Preventing Cross-contamination in Food Production

Here at Strip Curtains Direct, we offer a range of Anti-Microbial plastic door curtains which can be used in many different settings - from offices and warehouses to food retail premises. One of the industries where PVC strip curtains are used quite often is the food production industry as standard grade PVC has many features which they find useful - especially for the prevention of cross-contamination. But what is cross-contamination in food production and how can our range of PVC strip curtains help to prevent it?

What is cross-contamination?

Cross-contamination is the name given to the transfer of allergens and other foreign substances from one surface to another due to poor sanitary procedures being followed.

The three most common sources of cross-contamination are:

  • Dirty equipment - kitchen equipment needs to be regularly cleaned to ensure cross-contamination does not occur, otherwise employees and customers could be in danger. If the equipment is not thoroughly washed and sanitised then pathogens could gather on them, which could then cause bacteria to spread.
  • Food - cross-contamination in food occurs most often when raw food is placed near cooked food, such as raw meat juices dripping onto other products. Bacteria can quickly spread and find its way into commercial kitchens and retail food outlets.
  • People - one of the most common causes of food cross-contamination is when employees handle or distribute food. One example of this is when an employee goes from one production line to another without washing his or her hands.

Cross-contamination in food production is a big issue as it can lead to food poisoning, so businesses who want to be successful have to work hard to ensure this does not happen.

Why is preventing cross-contamination important?

There are four main processes in food production (production, processing, preparation and distribution), and cross-contamination can occur in any of them. Having a strategy for preventing cross-contamination is vital, as is making sure it is strictly adhered to, as this will help prevent any issues from arising or harmful bacteria reaching the final customer

What are the dangers of cross-contamination in food production?

As we have mentioned above, the transfer of allergens and bacteria from one food product to another can be a major threat to human health. In fact, the World Health Organisation, who collect data on food poisoning on a yearly basis, recently reported that around 600 million people fall ill every year due to eating contaminated food, with 420 million people dying as a result. These are quite shocking figures, especially when you realise it is easily preventable.

The easiest way to kill bacteria is to ensure food is cooked and heated properly. However, if this cooked food then comes into contact with raw food, then cross-contamination could occur again. If the ready-cooked food is sold as is, then it won’t undergo another cooking process and so the bacteria will remain there and could cause harm to the customer who purchases it.

There are lots of stages in the food preparation process where cross-contamination can occur, including undercooking of food and storing the food at an incorrect temperature. It is essential for food preparation business owners to know where the risks are and to put steps in place to prevent issues from occurring.

How to prevent cross-contamination

If you want to avoid cross-contamination, there are several steps you can undertake:

  • Employee training on personal hygiene. The first step in preventing cross-contamination is making sure your employees practice healthy personal hygiene. We cannot overemphasize the importance of it. Regular washing of the hands, wearing clean clothing and using hair nets and gloves are basics, but important. Food safety standards are constantly being updated as well, and you should ensure your employees are given regular training on the standards and the importance of upholding them in order to make sure your production line stays contamination-free.
  • Proper sanitation during storage. Another essential step in preventing food cross-contamination is keeping cooked and raw food separate. One of the ways that some food preparation centres achieve this is to have colour coded storage solutions to help employees visually distinguish what different workspaces should be used for. You can also use standard PVC curtains to separate different areas, as they are non-porous, which will prevent bacteria from growing, and they also help prevent airborne particles from moving from one area to another. 
  • Effective cleaning methods. Efficient, effective cleaning is a great way to prevent harmful bacteria from spreading, and so prevent cross-contamination. Employees should wash and disinfect equipment and surfaces between each task, and they should also ensure they are wearing clean clothes and gloves each time as well.

As you can see, cross-contamination in the food preparation industry is a big problem, but there are simple steps you can take to ensure you keep the risks to a minimum. Here at Strip Curtains Direct, we work hard to produce solutions to many of the issues that businesses face, such as offering fly screens to prevent flying insects from entering food premises, anti-static curtains for data centres, and a general range of strip curtains to help with energy efficiency.

If you have any questions about our range of plastic door curtains, please contact us on 0333 999 7171 or by email at sales@stripcurtainsdirect.com.