Even after you've thoroughly cleaned your hands and surfaces, raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs can still spread illness-causing bacteria to ready-to-eat foods - unless you keep them separate. Cross-contamination can lead to serious illness, but the good news is that it's simple to prevent.

  • Use one cutting board for fresh produce, and one for raw meat, poultry, or seafood.
  • Use separate plates and utensils for cooked and raw foods.
  • Before using them again, thoroughly wash plates, utensils, and cutting boards that held raw meat, poultry, seafood or eggs.
  • Once a cutting board gets excessively worn or starts to develop hard-to-clean grooves, consider replacing it.

The kitchen isn't the only place where you need to be mindful of cross-contamination. It can happen before the food even enters your home. To ensure this doesn't happen, take the following steps to make sure food isn't contaminated in your grocery bag:

  • Separate raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs from other foods in your shopping cart.
  • At the checkout, place raw meat, poultry, and seafood in plastic bags to keep their juices from dripping on other foods.
  • When putting groceries away, make sure the juices don't leak onto your hands, sinks, counter tops or floors.

Keep meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate from all other foods in the fridge.

Bacteria can survive and spread inside your fridge if the juices of raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs drip onto ready-to-eat foods. Fortunately, stopping this contamination is easy.

  • Place raw meat, poultry, and seafood in containers or sealed plastic bags to prevent their juices from dripping or leaking onto other foods. If you're not planning to use these foods within a few days, freeze them instead.
  • Keep eggs in their original carton and store them in the main compartment of the refrigerator-not in the door.