Preventing microbial cross contamination: Myths and Facts

By Ibilola Itiolu

Myth: Wearing glove prevents the spread of food pathogens.

Fact: Wearing gloves is just a precautionary exercise, it has been demonstrated that gloves could be vehicle for food pathogens to food however frequent changing could reduce the risk cross -contamination. 

Myth: Chill the food as foodborne microbes cannot grow in the refrigerator.

Fact: Cooling temperature must be below 5C to inhibit the growth of microorganism but most importantly, a thoroughly clean refrigerator is important as bacteria buildup in the fridge could pose a threat to the spread of pathogens.

Myth: In cafeterias, only sick workers can pass pathogens to customers while serving food.

Facts: Healthy workers and unproperly trained kitchen staff could pose even more danger if food safety rules are not adhered to. It is advisable that kitchen staff should be knowledgeable about food hygiene principle by been able to identify and eliminate hazards within their workplace.

Myths: Kitchen cleaning tools should be washed and boiled after use to get rid of germs.

Facts:    Ideally cleaning tools like sponges, brushes etc should be replaced as often as possible.

Myths: Once you peel off the skin of fruits and vegetables you need not wash them.

Facts: Peeled fruits and vegetable should be properly rinsed with potable water to prevent food safety risks.

Myths: Plastic chopping boards are safer than wooden types

Facts: Food pathogens can thrive on a variety of materials. Discard old chopping boards and other household utensils as they may just be breeding grounds for food microbes

References

Qi, Y., He, Y., Beuchat, L.R., Zhang, W and Deng, X. 2020. Glove-mediated transfer of Listeria monocytogenes on fresh-cut cantaloupe. Food Microbiology,88. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fm.2019.103396

Erickson, M.C., Liao, J., Cannon, J.L, Ortega, Y.R. 2015. Contamination of knives and graters by bacterial foodborne pathogens during slicing and grating of produce. Food Microbiology. 52: 138-145, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fm.2015.07.008

Soares, N.F. 2020 Sources of contamination in our home kitchen https://www.foodfocus.co.za/home/Industry-Topics/food-safety/Sources-of-contamination-in-our-home-kitchen