Cross-contamination occurs when bacteria is spread between people, food, surfaces and equipment. A common concern in the food and healthcare industries, cross-contamination also poses a health threat in any environment including schools, shopping malls, offices and other buildings. This becomes a serious problem when you take into account that Americans spend about 90% of their time inside, yet contaminants found indoors can be five times worse than outdoors.
Hands, equipment, cloth/rags, door handles and food are probably the most common culprits of cross-contamination. Though it may seem like common sense, many people do not wash and dry their hands:
- Before touching or eating food
- Handling raw meat, fish, chicken or unwashed vegetables
- After using the toilet
- After blowing their noses
- After touching a pet
- Employees eat at their desks and, even if they clean up afterwards, food particles remain to breed bacteria and attract pests that can further spread disease.
Another common mistake is to clean multiple areas with the same supplies and/or equipment and to store restroom cleaning supplies together with items used in other areas. Cloths, sponges and mops are sources of concentrated bacteria that can cross-contaminate anything with which they come into contact.