HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


Cross Contamination? I think it's a myth

HI there,

I've heard about the dangers and intensive consequence if a restaurant doesn't follow cleanliness procedures. One of which could also be produced at home.. cross contamination. Raw meat & Veg = poison. I think it's bullsh*t, I'll tell you why and please educate me to better understand the term....

strict rules about not mixing chopping boards, knives without washed properly.. discard the "all purpose" cloth on the kitchen counter, wash ure hands etc...

okay, well, then how bout dim sum? spring rolls? krokets? oven items?

Sping rolls have been around for so many decades, it's one of the most popular asian items now. do you know how to make spring rolls? well, sometimes how we do it is that we shred some carrots, green onions or whatever, mixed with spices and ground meat. then we roll it up, deep fry it. Shouldn't there have been food contaminated? We all have eaten it and there's no problem.

Dim sum.. umm those shrimp/meat wrapped stuff? it's the same idea, raw meat + green onions (commonly used in asian dishes) n then steamed. we're all okay

krokets, mashed potato, raw meat, parsley or whatever, same idea

ovenned stuff.. raw chicken, with rosemary stuffed underneath the skin. or parsley. or onions. whatever.

I think food contamination from raw meat and veggie having contact is a myth.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Doesn't matter if the whole thing is then cooked.

    1. The problem is when, for example, a cutting board is used to cut up raw chicken (which later gets cooked) and then is used to cut up cucumbers for a salad, without washing in between,. The cucumber is contaminated with raw chicken, and possibly salmonella, and is served raw. That could make you sick. If you then stir fried it together and got all teh food hot, it wouldn't be a problem.

      1. as jaykayen said, the items to which you referred - spring rolls, croquettes, etc. - are all *cooked* so assuming they're taken to a temperature sufficient to kill any harmful bacteria, of course they're safe to eat, as is any other preparation of the same meat.

        the concern with cross-contamination has more to do with *uncooked* food. for example, handling raw chicken and then using your hands to handle the vegetables for a RAW salad. or let's say you dripped some liquid from a package of raw chicken on the counter and didn't wipe it up or disinfect it completely. a bit later you wanted a little nosh, so you grabbed an apple from the fruit basket, set it down on the contaminated counter while you got a drink from the fridge, and then snacked away on that apple that was now sporting a nice coating of salmonella (or other nasties) from the chicken juice.

        yes, perhaps the second scenario is a bit far-fetched (or some might even say paranoid), but anyone who has ever suffered from food poisoning will tell you that it's worth a little extra diligence to save yourself - and anyone else you might be feeding - the misery.

        1. Hawtleak,

          Like Jakayen said, if the entire thing is cooked, then it is. What cross contamination really refers to is raw meat mix with foods that is not to be cooked. Milklady has an example. If you are to cut up your raw meat on a cutting board, without cleaning the board, you cut fruits on it and serve the fruits. There is also cross contamination in cooking hamburger too, which is why the right way to do it is to cook a huge batch once and for all before moving to a entire new batch.

          Let's imagine this. You put 5 beef patties and cooked them on a grill with a spatula. Right when you are almost done a friend ask you to put one more on. Ok, now you put a raw meat patty and flip it once with your spatula. Now, your spatula is contaminated with raw meat, you then pick up the rest of the 5 patties with that spatula because they are done, yet the spatula itself has raw meat. See the problem? One way around is to actually cook the spatula.

          Anyway, good luck.

          1. I know what you mean HawtLeak to an extent. I refuse to have 5 or 6 different plastic cutting boards that I only use for specific things. I think the few wooden/bamboo ones that I have can be used for everything. However, I wouldn't really cut up a salad on an unwashed board after I finished cutting up a bunch of chicken...

            1. I hope you have good health insurance and an updated will.

              2 Replies
              1. re: carolinadawg

                ...or at least one bathroom for each person in the house!

                1. re: ricepad

                  Speaking as someone who has felt the terrible effects of cross-contamination at a family gathering, your comment is the most cogent on the subject. God, that was a bad weekend.

              2. Yeah, as the others have said, if both the meat and veggie are thoroughly COOKED after preparation, as in all the items you mention, there isn't much risk of cross-contamination. I think basically no one calls veggie/meat fillings "cross-contamination" because they are COOKED together.

                You can do an experiment and dump raw chicken juice on your salad if you feel like it, but I'm at least going to wash my board and knife in nice, hot, soapy water between meat and RAW veggies, thanks.

                1. Thanks everybody for the clarification.

                  Alrighty so I get it now... one thing though, so if I'm planning to cook everything, then can I use the same board without washing it inbetween? For examplem cutting onions & carrots on it, n then without washing it, cutting raw chicken on it.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: HawtLeak


                    It is usually ok to go from vegetables to meats. The question is usually regarding from meats to vegetables. However, if you are going to cook your vegetable very thoroughly, then it is fine.

                    1. re: HawtLeak

                      If you're cooking everything, using more than one board is silly.

                      1. re: HawtLeak

                        Not only do you need to cook everything, but you need to cook everything to 165 degrees F, as you would a piece of chicken. Keep this in mind, because I doubt many (sauteed, for example) vegetables ever see that temperature range.

                        1. re: Whats_For_Dinner

                          Alternatively argument can be made for cross contaimination from meat to vegetable. Because cross contaimination occurs on the surface, the entire vegetable does not have to be 165F, only the surface has to be and I think most sauteed vegetables are heated way above that.

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            There is another possibility of contamination. If the vegetables were cut in any manner, contamination may make its way to the inside. Cuts may be made by the cook or in the field.

                      2. interesting discussion. To keep this simple for me, I use one cutting board for meat and I have 2 cutting boards for everything else. Yes, it is raw meat we want to be concerned with, but I assume also that you don't want cross contamination of tastes! It is easy to have designated cutting boards. My old oak board gets thoroughly washed and put away; it has lasted for a couple of decades. I believe oak is so dense that it is OK to be used this way. I don't have separate knives. But washing the blade of a knife is easier to do well than with the board. The knife blade is nonporous.

                        1. It doesn't matter a jot if you put meat and vegetables together if they're being cooked! Cooking kills the germies dead so they can't hurt you. The cross-contamination that you may live to regret is if you cut up that raw meat and put it in a pan, then cut up nice fresh salad to go with it on the same board... if you don't use the same chopping board to cut them up, then you can't accidentally forget and contaminate the salad greens.

                          I'm not neurotic about cross-contamination but I make sure to use a clean knife and clean plate to fix the salad... one time I forgot - no it didn't poison us because we didn't eat it! I realised halfway through the preperation that I was cutting up my fresh lettuce and tomato with the same knife that I'd used on the raw chicken (and left on the counter unwashed), and I threw the lot in the bin and started again.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Kajikit

                            Yes, using the same cutting board and a knife that hasn't been washed for both raw poultry and salad could be bad.

                            For me it is just easier to have a separate board for meat, esp. raw meat.

                          2. anyway, plus its gross to have some raw meat juice or particles on ure fresh green salad

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: HawtLeak

                              HL, I was being sarcastic. Please do not do that.

                            2. It's all about time/temperature. Bacteria exist in our foods, period. Bacteria can help build our immune system. But we can only handle certain amount of bacteria before we become sick. By keeping food at or under 41 degrees we inhibit bacterial multiplication. If you pull your food from the fridge into your 70 degree kitchen and prep it on your board, that's fine. Then wash your knife and board. Job done. No cross-contamination. If you pull your food, prep it and leave the knife or board out for someone else to use 4 hours later, and you happened to be prepping bacteria-prone protein like chicken, or one less prone like tofu even, then you might have a problem. Bacteria like moisture, pH neutral or leaning basic, proteins, temperatures between 70-120, and, for the most part, oxygen. Botulinum bacteria don't like oxygen, but they make your eyes look fabulous.