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Preventing Cross-Contamination

By Cook's Illustrated Published January 2010

One of the most important rules of food safety is to keep raw and cooked foods separate.

Never place cooked food on a plate or cutting board that has come into contact with raw food, or vice versa, and wash any utensil (including a thermometer) that comes in contact with raw food before reusing it. These additional steps will help you avoid cross-contamination.

Safer Seasoning

Though bacteria can’t live for more than a few minutes in direct contact with salt (which quickly dehydrates bacteria, leading to cell death), it can live on the edges of a box or shaker. To avoid contamination, we grind pepper into a small bowl and then mix it with salt. This way, we can reach into the bowl for seasoning without having to wash our hands every time we touch raw meat or fish. Afterward, the bowl goes right into the dishwasher.

Put Up a Barrier

Items that come in contact with both raw and cooked food, like scales and platters, should be covered with plastic wrap or aluminum foil to create a protective barrier. Once the item has been used, the wrap—and any bacteria—can be discarded. Similarly, wrapping your cutting board with plastic wrap before pounding meat and poultry will limit the spread of bacteria.

Don’t Recycle Used Marinade

Used marinade is contaminated with raw meat juice and is therefore unsafe to consume. If you want a sauce to serve with cooked meat, make a little extra marinade and set it aside before adding the rest to the raw meat.

Done in 281 ms! 61.385 KiB - 7.5% = 56.776 KiB