Pathogens (disease-causing organisms) can be transferred to food from utensils, food-contact surfaces (cutting boards), food workers hands, raw meats, poultry, fish and seafood.
Contamination is the presence of pathogens or harmful substances in food. Food can become contaminated at any time and can be contaminated by other foods. To help prevent cross-contamination, raw meats, fish, and poultry must be stored and handled separately from one another and kept away from cooked and ready-to-eat foods (i.e. separate cutting boards, separation of duties, preparing vegetables before preparing meats). Employees need to eliminate bare hand contact with cooked and ready-to-eat foods. Equipment, utensils and food contact surfaces must be washed, rinsed and sanitized, and hands must be washed at appropriate times (see personal hygiene).
To prevent cross-contamination during cooling and cold-holding, time/temperature control for safety (TCS) food (aka potentially hazardous food or PHF) should be stored in the refrigerator so that:
Foods with a lower cooking temperature are stored above those with a higher cooking temperature (see Refrigeration)
Foods that are cooling uncovered are stored to prevent contamination (i.e. above other foods that may drip onto the cooling food)
Different types of raw foods are not comingled in the same container (i.e. different types of raw shellfish mixed together)