Cross Contamination

It’s easy for germs to spread around the kitchen – stop the spread by avoiding cross-contamination.

Cross contamination 

Cross contamination is the spread of bacteria around your kitchen, from food to surfaces and from surfaces to food and can be a major cause of food poisoning. It’s particularly important to be aware of cross-contamination when preparing and storing food. Here are some tips that you can follow to avoid cross contamination in the kitchen and keep you and your family safe.

  • Don't wash meat before cooking it. It won’t get rid of the harmful bugs and you could splash these bugs onto other areas of the kitchen or onto yourself
  • Wash hands in warm, soapy water after touching raw food (such as meats and fish) and before handling ready-to-eat foods (such as salad vegetables)
  • Keep raw meat/poultry and ready-to-eat foods separate during storage and preparation
  • Don’t use the same chopping board or utensils for raw meat/poultry and ready-to-eat food (such as salads) without washing the board and utensils thoroughly in between uses

Should I wash raw chicken?

No. You shouldn't wash raw chicken or any other raw meat before cooking. Washing won't get rid of any harmful bugs that could be present, only proper cooking will. If you wash meat before cooking it, you could splash harmful bugs onto hands, work surfaces, ready-to-eat foods and cooking equipment. These bugs could then cause food poisoning. Read more about different types of food poisoning.

advice not to wash raw chicken because this risks splashing germs on worktops

Keeping raw and ready to eat food separate

It's especially important to keep raw meat and fish away from ready-to-eat food, such as salad, fruit and bread. We sometimes don’t cook these ingredients so there’s no chance to kill bacteria before it’s eaten.

Raw food is food that will be cooked before eating compared to ready-to-eat foods that can be eaten without any further processing. 

Raw meat and fish contain harmful bacteria that can spread very easily to anything they touch, including other foods, worktops, chopping boards and knives.

fridge showing raw and ready to eat food kept separate

More on this topic



Keep yourself and your kitchen clean by washing and drying your hands thoroughly.



Stop germs growing by keeping them cold. Look out for a 'use by' date or 'keep refrigerated' on the label.


Cooking food

Food poisoning isn’t just something you get outside your home – the meals you prepare can be a source of food poisoning too.