Cross Contamination (page 2)

Separating Foods

Another primary source of bacteriological infection is between different types of food especially raw poultry or meat and raw vegetables or fruit; one way to avoid this type of cross contamination is to keep food types separate.

Food has to be delivered and brought into the pub and it is this point of delivery where the safe method of food separation begins. Firstly try to arrange for different times for your deliveries of meat and poultry and your fruit and vegetables and ensure the place where you take deliveries in (if not direct to the kitchen) is kept clean, dry and tidy. Remove all the outer packaging and discard (make sure any cooking instructions etc are kept if on the packaging) this stops dirty outer wrappings contaminating food with dirt or sometimes even pests, such as insects.

If frozen food is required immediately, then they should be put in an airtight/watertight container in a fridge below any ready to eat food (more detail on the safe method for defrosting is in the article on Freezing & Chilling). You should also cover cooked food and ready to eat food to stop the spread of bacteria.

When it comes to preparation and cooking you must keep raw poultry and meat separate too, ideally in totally separate parts of the kitchen, and at least by working on them at different times. Remember to thoroughly clean preparation and cooking areas between different tasks as harmful bacteria can spread from knives and chopping boards. You should always use different knives and chopping boards on different food, see the article on Kitchen Knives.

Another way that bacteria spread is during the cooking process, for instance when cooking to order on a griddle or barbecue or under the grill raw meat can drip onto meat already cooking. Make sure your raw and cooking foods don’t touch.

Covering Foods

In order to protest food from harmful bacteria it’s important to keep food covered, especially different foodstuffs (raw and cooked or ready to eat). You need to use food grade bags and containers with lids or foil or cling wrap:

When you are covering food:

  • check the manufacturer’s instructions to see if the covering is suitable
  • for what you are using it for
  • always make sure that the food is properly covered
  • take care not to let the covering fall into foods
  • never re-use foil, cling film or freezer bags
  • make sure that plastic boxes are washed, disinfected and dried between uses


Do not store food in opened tins.


Nature provides many cross contamination routes, one of these is from pests such as insects, birds and rodents, so you need to keep your kitchen and food stores scrupulously clean and ensure that they cannot gain access to your food. Regular cleaning of the stores and kitchen will give you the opportunity to inspect those areas for signs of pest infestations. A favourite area for pests are bins and their enclosures so make sure you keep those clean and tidy with close fitting lids for all refuse containers.

Signs of a pest problem

Click on the links for detailed advice on the various fauna that might cause a problem:

Rodentsrats and mice – small footprints, droppings and holes in walls or food containers, smear marks from the oils in their fur and urine stains /smells.

Flying insects – moths, houseflies and bluebottles – nests, maggots, dead bodies of insects, buzzing or droning – pubs are ideal breeding grounds for flying insects such as fruit (filter) flies as beer and soft drinks are high in the sugars they feed on.

Cockroaches – egg cases and eggs, shed skins, droppings, the cockroaches themselves, hissing.

Ants – small mounds of soil or sand, the ants themselves and in hot weather (especially if on a migration route) flying ants.

Beetles and Weevils – especially in dried foods such as oats or cereals – moving insects and small maggots.

Birds – such as pigeons – feathers, droppings, nests, eggs.

If you suspect that you have any kind of infestation contact a pest contractor and ensure that all surfaces that may have been affected are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. If problems persist you may need to employ a contractor on a regular basis on a service contract. If the contractor uses any kind of traps, bait or chemicals to tackle the infestation you must ensure these substances don’t come into contact with any food or food packaging.

Most importantly throw away any food that you think has come into contact with pests.

Prevention is better than cure so make sure of the following things:

  • don’t leave dirty plates, especially with food debris on, out over night
  • check for pests regularly and inform your staff of the inspection routine
  • make sure you keep a record of pest contractors work and keep dates when they are due in your kitchen/pub diary


Top Tip – pest contractors should sign the actual bait and monitoring stations rather than just the main book. This helps to prove due diligence in case of any problems with an infestation. Pest contractors don’t do always do this as it saves them time and money on site visits.

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