Preventing Cross-Contamination Theme for National Food Safety Month

"Be Smart. Keep Foods Apart. Donít Cross-Contaminate," is the theme for National Food Safety Education Month, celebrated in September and observed locally by the Houston Department of Health and Human Services (HDHHS).

"Cross-contamination is the transfer of harmful bacteria to food from other foods, cutting boards, utensils, etc., if they are not handled properly," said Chirag Bhatt, R.S., division manager of HDHHS' Consumer Health Services Bureau. An example of cross-contamination is cutting raw meat, poultry, or fish on a cutting board and then slicing a salad ingredient on the same cutting board without washing it between uses.

Cross-contamination can result during all stages of food preparation Ė personal hygiene, cleaning, storage, preparation and cooking and serving.

For more information on food safety, please call the Consumer Health Services Bureau at 713-794-9200 or the Harris County Health Department at 713-439-6270. The bureau's web page at www.ci.houston.tx.us/departme/health/foodpage.html and the International Food Safety Councilís web site at www.foodsafetycouncil.org contain additional food safety tips.