To clarify the steps that food businesses need to take to control the risk of cross contamination from E. coli O157, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has issued some guidance: E. coli O157: control of cross contamination.
The FSA have also produced some useful food hygiene training videos covering areas such as keeping equipment separate, handwashing and how to reheat food safely.
Risks of E. coli 0157
- cross contamination should be considered whenever raw foods are handled (eg meat and unwashed vegetables) and ready-to-eat foods are also handled (eg foods that will not be cooked or reheated before being eaten, such as cooked meats, sandwiches, cheese, salads and desserts).
Key steps to prevent possible cross contamination:
- physical separation of food items
- using separate equipment for raw and ready-to-eat foods
- personal hygiene of staff
- the importance of effective cleaning/disinfection to get rid of harmful bacteria
- use of disposable cloths
- official standards for sanitisers (BS EN1276:1997 or BS EN 13697:2001)
Although E. coli O157 is the key focus of the guidance, the measures outlined will also help in the control of other food poisoning bacteria, such as campylobacter and salmonella.