Sometimes bacteria pass directly from the source to high-risk food, but as bacteria are largely static and as the sources are not always in direct contact with food, the bacteria have to rely on other things to transfer them to food. These things are known as vehicles of contamination and the main ones are:
Cross-contamination can be defined as ‘the transfer of bacteria from contaminated foods (usually raw) to ready-to-eat foods’
This includes direct contact, drip and indirect contamination by, for example, hands not washed between raw and cooked food preparation, or using the same equipment or work surfaces for raw and high-risk food. The path along which bacteria can be transferred from the source to the food is known as the route, for example, bacteria can be transferred from raw meat via a contaminated chopping board or knives to ready-to-eat foods. Knowledge of sources, vehicles and routes is vital to food poisoning prevention, as different controls apply to each. It must be assumed that all sources are contaminated, i.e. every worker is a carrier and all raw meat, milk, animals, insects, used equipment and surrounding environment are contaminated.
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